Developing the Business Structure Database (BSD) as a tool to support sub-national business policy analysis in the UK

Lead Research Organisation: Aston University
Department Name: Aston Business School

Abstract

The Local Growth White Paper, published by the UK government in October 2010, announced a major change in the institutional framework for delivering business support in England. The nine regional development agencies were to close and, instead, business support would be organized through Local Economic Partnerships (LEPs). The LEPs need for data also brings into sharper focus some data-related constraints which have restricted progress in our own programme of research linking firm-level performance with labour market adjustment processes. In two different areas - measuring the incidence and impact of high growth firms and in the construction of job creation and destruction accounts - the missing link between the ONS firm-level and establishment-level data has made it impossible to answer properly questions about the dynamics of employment change which are of importance both to policymakers and researchers.

Currently, the BSD consists of two independent - firm and establishment - sets of annual snapshots of the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR). Each firm-level snapshot has nearly 2 million records and each establishment-level snapshot has around 5 million records. The significance of the distinction between these two is that the firm-level records locate all of the firm's jobs at the address of the firm's headquarters. But, of course, in a multi-establishment firm many of the jobs will be elsewhere located at an establishment's address. So if we wish to construct sub-national level job accounts we need a mixture of firm and establishment-level information. To do this we need to construct longitudinally-linked datasets for firms and establishments in order to enable us to identify where jobs are located. This is a considerable computational task. We have already constructed the longitudinal firm-level dataset covering the years 1997-2010. The initial task in this project is to construct the longitudinal dataset for establishments. Because of the number of records involved this can only be done incrementally (we have investigated doing this at the regional level and this does seem feasible).

Once this is done we can then link the two together. However, there are a number of additional and significant complications. First, when we come to connect these two firm- and establishment-level datasets: establishments can and do move from firm to firm. Second, establishments in one region may be part of a firm which is located in another region. Finally, birth and death dates of establishments may need some adjustment to ensure that they do match those of their associated firms.

Having completed this infrastructure investment phase we will have a unique resource which has never previously been available. The code used to construct this new dataset will be made available as one output of this project (of course the raw data will still only be accessible to ONS Approved Researchers). Extending our own work at the national level the main outputs of the project will be job creation and destruction accounts and an assessment of the incidence and impact of high-growth firms for each of the 39 English LEPs as well as three devolved Administrations. These two sets of analyses are of substantive interest to academics but even more to policymakers concerned with driving economic growth at the local level. The analyses will also serve as a demonstration of the value added by the creation of this new dataset.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit? - There are a number of individuals and organisations in the public sector who will benefit from this research project. These include the two key government departments/agencies responsible for business statistics and economic and enterprise policy, namely the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and its equivalent in Northern Ireland (DETI); Scotland (Scottish Executive) and Wales (Welsh Government); the 39 English LEPs and other public sector organisations with a sub-national focus for their activities such as the Leeds City-Region. In addition, academic scholars (economists and geographers) and those charged with providing SME statistics across Government who work with micro-datasets in the UK (e.g., those involved in the Business Population and Demographics Statistics (BPDS) User Group and the ONS MAUS User Group) will be the important beneficiaries.

How will they benefit? - The construction of a new integrated firm and establishment-level dataset for the whole of the UK economy provides a new dataset for researchers and opportunities to provide a range of more robust analyses at the sub-national level. For example, the missing link between the ONS firm-level and plant-level data has made it impossible to answer properly questions about the dynamics of employment change which are of importance both to policymakers and researchers. The public availability of the computational code to create this dataset will enable a wide range of researchers to undertake their own lines of enquiry on other topics driving local economic performance which will add significant value to current analese using the ONS Business Structure Database (BSD).

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Longitudinal firm-level and plant-level datasets for theh private sector (1998-2018) constructed from annual abstracts of the IDBR and are now used extensively by the research team in the Enterprise Research Centre for a range of research projects and evaluation projects using matched datasets. Research on SME growth and productivity has greatly benefited from these datasets.
Exploitation Route Datasets available to all ONS Approved Researchers in the UKDs and SRS.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://www.enterpriseresearch.ac.uk
 
Description The LEP Network use the Local Growth Dashboard as in input to their Strategic Economic Plans (SEPs) and submissions to Government under DEVO2. provided input into a project for the National Infrastructure Commission on the Oxford-Cambridge corridor. The Local Growth Dashboard and our work on the sub-national longitudinal version of the Business Structure Database, is now used by BEIS (Cities and Local Growth team and the Business Growth Directorate) to help formulate policy options for the English Growth Hubs. The data has now been used extensively in Northern Ireland with the Department for the Economy and in Scotland with Scottish Enterprise to undertake a range od sub-regional scenario planning on the evolution of the private sector and especially start-ups and small firms.
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Economic

 
Description English Growth Hubs
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Supporting BIS Local Growth Team with LEPs and Clusters
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact Arising out of this the research team were invited to produce a new set of enterprise KPIs for the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP - these were accepted by the LEP Board in March 2015. We, as ERC, are also working closely with the BIS Local Growth team to roll these out for all the English LEPs as well as to continue to provide bespoke analysis for BIS and CLG. These metrics alongside our work on industrial clusters will be an important resource for both LEPs and central government departments (i.e., BIS and CLG) and a workshop with BIS and CLG is planned in 2016.
 
Title Longitudinal Version of the Plant-Level ONS Business Structure Database 1998-2016 
Description The "Longitudinal BSD" database containing firm-level records of jobs (with markers for sector and postcode) for all firms in the UK for the period 1997 to 2013 (together with associated documentation) is now accessible to ONS "approved researchers" through the VML. An annotated copy of the code used to build the database is also accessible. We understand from the UKDS Secure Lab that these resources are now available to Secure Lab. 
Type Of Material Data handling & control 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Arising out of this the research team were invited to produce a new set of enterprise KPIs for the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP - these were accepted by the LEP Board in March 2015. We, as ERC, are also working closely with the BIS Local Growth team to roll these out for all the English LEPs as well as to continue to provide bespoke analysis for BIS and CLG. These metrics alongside our work on industrial clusters will be an important resource for both LEPs and central government departments (i.e., BIS and CLG) and a workshop with BIS and CLG is planned in 2016. 
 
Description BIS Cluster Project 
Organisation Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution BIS commissioned the Hart of the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) to undertake an analysis of industrial clusters in the UK and to use the new Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) as the sub-national spatial frame in England. This will update the work undertaken over a decade ago in 2001 and will adopt a similar methodology. The analysis is designed as an information source for the LEPS as they prepare their new strategic economic plans and concentrates on both the UK 11 Industrial Strategy sectors as well as a detailed 5-digit Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) analysis for each of the 39 LEPS. The dataset used was the one supported under the ESRC award made under the SDAI.
Collaborator Contribution Access to a policy debate within BIS Local Growth team about cluster policy.
Impact LOCALISATION OF INDUSTRIAL ACTIVITY ACROSS ENGLAND'S LEPs Michael Anyadike-Danes, Karen Bonner, Cord-Christian Drews and Mark Hart ERC Research Paper No. 15 December 2013
Start Year 2013
 
Description English Growth Hub Analysis 
Organisation Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The research team have been working with the Cities and Local Growth team in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to provide early intelligence on the performance of the English growth Hubs using the databases initially constructed under the initial ESRC award in 2012.
Collaborator Contribution BEIS officials provide access to Growth Hub data necessary for our analysis and involve the research team in discussions of business support policy options with Cabinet Office and HMT.
Impact None to date.
Start Year 2017
 
Description GBS LEP 
Organisation Local Enterprise Partnerships
Department Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Arising out of this research project funded under SDAI the research team were invited to produce a new set of enterprise KPIs for the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP - these were accepted by the LEP Board in March 2015.
Collaborator Contribution Involvement in key discussions on the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) for the LEP
Impact A new set of enterprise KPIs for the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP - these were accepted by the LEP Board in March 2015.
Start Year 2013
 
Description GBS LEP Growing Businesses Board Member 
Organisation Local Enterprise Partnerships
Department Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Provide advice on business support to the strategic thinking and activities of the GBS LEP through active participation in the Growing Businesses Board
Collaborator Contribution Exchange of knowledge on business support
Impact None as yet
Start Year 2015
 
Description LEP Network and CLG 
Organisation Government of the UK
Department Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Providing analysis and support to the 38 English LEPs. Pilot project in Q1 2017 with 7 LEPs to identify evidence gaps around the topic of business growth and productivity.
Collaborator Contribution Providing information on the activities of 7 individual LEPs
Impact None as yet
Start Year 2016
 
Description LEP Network and CLG 
Organisation LEP Network
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Providing analysis and support to the 38 English LEPs. Pilot project in Q1 2017 with 7 LEPs to identify evidence gaps around the topic of business growth and productivity.
Collaborator Contribution Providing information on the activities of 7 individual LEPs
Impact None as yet
Start Year 2016
 
Description Academic Conference Presentations 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Academic conference presentations (Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Cardiff, November 2013; Regional Studies Association, November 2014)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
 
Description BSD User Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Organised a BSD User Group Meeting (Aston, April 2014) to discuss problems and prospects for using the BSD and publicise the up-coming availability of the database and code to researchers and government analysts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Brexit and Local Growth 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Blog written for the ESRC entitled "Preparing for Brexit at the local level" In the aftermath of the EU referendum, there is an even greater focus on the performance of the private sector and its ability to provide jobs and wealth creating opportunities across all parts of the UK - especially at the local level - as the UK prepares for Brexit. The nature of business growth dynamics in various local economies across the UK have been revealed by the Enterprise Research Centre's annual UK Local Growth Dashboard.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://blog.esrc.ac.uk/2017/01/27/preparing-for-brexit-at-the-local-level/
 
Description Business Start-up and Growth Roundtable - Liverpool City Region 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Roundtable hosted the Women's Organisation based in Liverpool to explore the range of start-up and growth metrics generated by the ERC and their relevance to the scale-up agenda in the Liverpool City-Region
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description LEP Workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A number of meetings were held with the majority of the LEPs in October/November 2014 - meetings were held in Grant Thornton offices in Leeds, Birmingham, London and Bristol. The primary aim of these meetings were to disseminate key metrics derived from our analysis of the BSD (firm-level and plant-level) and discuss with them the way in which other metrics could be derived to help develop their strategic thinking.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Presentation (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation based on the report for BIS on the 'Localisation of Industry in England' to update their industrial cluster report of 2001. This was published in the summer of 2013 as an Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) Research Report, an ESRC funded research centre, and a workshop was held in London in 2013 with the BIS Local Growth team, BIS Industrial Strategy leads and the English LEPs to provide a resource as they compiled their Strategic Economic Plans (SEPs). This workshop was repeated again in 2015.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2015
 
Description Tees Valley LEP Engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Workshop on the ERC's Local growth Dashboard to provide evidence to the activities of the Tees Valley LEP and associated stakeholders
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017