Third runway at Heathrow to bring ‘limited direct benefit’ to UK SMEs

Third Heathrow runway infographic

 

  • 51% think runway 3 is the ‘right decision for the UK’   
  • 57% will see no direct benefit from any additional capacity 
  • 50% would prefer a more centrally located airport to be built or developed
  • 42% say the expansion of Heathrow would exacerbate the North / South divide  

Half of the UK’s SMEs feel that the proposed third runway at Heathrow is the right decision for the UK, despite nearly three in five saying it won’t bring them any direct benefit, a survey of 900 businesses conducted on behalf of Close Brothers Asset Finance reveals.  Half again would prefer it if a more centrally located airport was either built or developed instead of runway 3. 

Just over a quarter of SMEs (27%) will directly benefit from the additional capacity that the third runway at Heathrow will create, while 57% will not; the remaining 16% are ‘unsure’.

“Unsurprisingly, the further from Heathrow businesses are located, the less they will benefit from the third runway,” said Ian Aitchison, Managing Director, Close Brothers Business Finance. “Our research also found that only 10% of businesses with a turnover under £250k would see any value from it. 

“That said, business owners were broadly in favour of runway 3, with 51% feeling that it would the ‘right decision’ for the UK. Businesses turning over between £5m to £10m are particularly positive, with 69% positive about the possibility of it being built.”

Q: Will your business benefit from the additional capacity that the third runway at Heathrow will create?

 

UK average

Under £250k

£251k - £500k

£501k - £1m

£1.1m - £5m

£5.1m - £10m

£10m +

Yes

27%

10%

35%

31%

32%

40%

34%

No

57%

76%

49%

54%

49%

49%

51%

Don’t know

16%

14%

16%

15%

20%

11%

16%

Value for money?

Business owners are split about whether the third runway represents value for money for businesses and tax payers, with 40% thinking it does and 38% having the opposite view; the remaining 22% weren’t sure.  

“At a projected cost of £14bn, many business owners don’t feel that they will benefit from this major infrastructure project,” said Ian. “For example, only 27% of respondents in the East Midlands and 34% of those in Wales think it will be money wisely spent.  

“From a sector perspective, Construction (49%), Engineering (46%), Manufacturing (45%) and Transport (44%) all track above the national average.” 

Q: Does Heathrow's third runway represent value for money for businesses and taxpayers?

 

Yes

No

Don't know

Construction

49%

28%

23%

Engineering

46%

38%

16%

Manufacturing

45%

34%

21%

Food and Drink

40%

40%

20%

Transport & Haulage

44%

37%

18%

Wholesale and distribution

32%

47%

22%

Print and Packaging

15%

46%

39%

Retail

31%

46%

24%

Recruitment

40%

32%

28%

Services

31%

39%

30%

Different location

Half of those polled would prefer a more centrally located airport to be built or and existing one developed.

Unsurprisingly, many Northern regions see the benefit of a central hub, and – interestingly - more Greater London firms are in favour of a central airport than those against, while a large minority of those in Wales and Scotland are still undecided.

Q: Should an airport more centrally located have been developed or built instead of the third runway at Heathrow?

 

Yes

No

Don't know

UK Average

50%

28%

22%

North East England

67%

20%

13%

West Midlands

60%

21%

19%

North West England

56%

20%

24%

Wales

51%

17%

31%

Greater London

50%

32%

18%

Yorkshire/Humberside

49%

29%

22%

East Midlands

48%

33%

19%

South West England

44%

31%

25%

East Anglia

42%

32%

26%

Scotland

41%

30%

29%

South East England

40%

40%

20%

North / South divide

Over four in ten businesses (42%) think the expansion of Heathrow would make the so-called North / South divide even greater than it is today.

“There is a long-held perception that investment in the North lags behind that of the South,” said Ian. “However, our results tell us that for over a third (35%) a new runway will make no difference at all.

“When we break the survey down regionally, all the Northern England areas track well above the UK average, while those in the South tend to feel that it makes little difference.” 

 

Yes, definitely

Absolutely not

It makes no difference

UK average

42%

23%

35%

North East England

61%

29%

10%

North West England

55%

19%

26%

Yorkshire/Humberside

53%

19%

28%

West Midlands

51%

19%

30%

Wales

46%

17%

37%

East Midlands

41%

30%

30%

Greater London

39%

33%

28%

Scotland

37%

19%

44%

South West England

35%

21%

44%

East Anglia

31%

22%

47%

South East England

26%

29%

46%