MORE companies were created in Redditch last year than at any time over the last decade.
A total of 446 firms set up business in 2013 compared with 302 in 2004. However net company growth is still some way below its 2008 peak as 303 companies ceased trading last year.
It means there are 143 more companies doing business in Redditch now, a significant increase on 2010 when the economy was in recession and the number of businesses trading in the borough fell by 84.
The figures were revealed in the annual Duport Business Confidence report.
Peter Valaitis, managing director of Duport.co.uk, said: “The rise in company formations suggests an increased business confidence in Redditch, which bodes well for the future of the local economy.”
The news comes as other figures suggest the economy is continuing to strengthen. The number of people claiming jobseekers’ allowance in April fell by 69 compared to the previous month to 1,391 and is more than 500 below the same period 12 months ago and 49 per cent less than April 2009.
There are also encouraging signs in the construction industry as according to government statistics, building started on 130 new homes in the borough in 2013 and was completed on 120 of them, up from 80 and 70 respectively the year before.
However there remains some way to go on pre-recession building levels when in 2007 there were 150 started and 350 completed.
The Kingfisher Shopping Centre is reporting strong growth as the recovery takes hold in the retail sector. So far this year the centre’s annual growth is up six per cent, significantly better than the regional and national figures. Part of that is down to the opening of The Hub development which includes Vue Cinema, Nando’s and Pure Gym.
Centre manager Ken Williams said: “The Hub development has attracted new visitors to the centre with small cross-over retail benefit which we expect to grow as the next restaurant opens during this summer.”
Redditch MP Karen Lumley said the figures proved the Government’s economic plan was right.
“We have stuck to our long-term economic plan to get us out of the mess we inherited and as I go touring around businesses they are on the up, looking to employ people and for bigger sales orders.” she said.
“I know it has been tough out there but we have also seen wages rise faster than inflation for the first time and later this year people should actually have more money in their pockets.”
But Rebecca Blake, Labour’s Parliamentary spokeswoman for Redditch, said with 5,500 people in the borough in fuel poverty, soaring energy prices, 335 young people unemployed and a shortage of affordable homes, people were still not feeling the economic recovery.
“I want everyone to be better off and while those who are doing their best still cannot afford the cost of living crisis I cannot be a cheer leader for the economic recovery.”