Birmingham Economic Review 2023

The annual Birmingham Economic Review is produced by City-REDI and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. It is an in-depth exploration of the economy of England’s second city and a resource for informing research, policy and investment decisions.

Below you can find an introduction to sections of the Birmingham Economic Review for 2023 accompanied by blogs relevant to those chapters. View and download the Birmingham Economic Review 2023


Rebecca Riley

Associate Professor of Enterprise, Engagement and Impact, City-REDI

“The UK economy continues to experience a series of economic shocks... In this report, we look in depth at the continuing economic and social impacts of these shocks and present data on the recovery of businesses and households. We also highlight that there are significant growth opportunities in the region, many of which would also improve inclusivity. Future growth, which is sustainable and inclusive, depends on our ability to seize opportunities, through innovation, collaboration and investment in the assets and skills base of the region.”

Economy: Crises and Resilience

The national economy has been dealing with a series of shocks and crisis for a prolonged period. In 2008 the global financial crisis led to a long-term reduction in private sector investment, alongside an extended period of austerity, which significantly reduced the capacity of public services. This was followed by Brexit referendum in 2016 which led to one of the largest depreciations of sterling in history and increased barriers to trade with the UK's largest trading partner. The Covid-19 pandemic then saw the largest decrease in output since the second world war, amplifying inequality across the country. The demand-pull inflationary pressures following the pandemic were then pushed up by cost-push inflationary pressures, as Russia invaded Ukraine in February of 2022, and global energy markets. 

This chapter of the Birmingham Economic Review for 2023 outlines the city region's economy within the context of recovery from a series of global and national crises, analysing and evaluating headline indicators, including productivity, trade, investment, and business activity.





Birmingham Economic Review 2023: A Year of Resilience

Alice Pugh and Emily Stubbs discuss this year’s Birmingham Economic Review (BER) produced in partnership between City REDI/ WMREDI and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, which provides a comprehensive analysis of the Greater Birmingham city region economy.

View from the Logistics Industry

Michal Gierat, Managing Director of WM International discusses the logistics industry since 2021, where a  variety of factors including the pandemic and fuel prices have made for challenging times.


Business: Disrupted Markets

The last few years have proven difficult for businesses. The pandemic posed the greatest economic challenge to firms since the Second World War, though governmental intervention did successfully support the majority of businesses through the crisis. Though the pandemic caused lasting supply chain issues, challenges have been compounded by the UK leaving the EU. The pandemic was then followed by demand-pull inflation, driven by rapidly rising demand outstripping supply following the re-opening of global economies. Supply chain issues, Brexit, labour under-supply and the invasion of the Ukraine have all additionally led to cost-pull inflation. Altogether, this is constraining business growth.

This chapter provides an update on the state of the city-region's business base, including trading conditions, financial distress, investment and innovation activity.



The Wider Socio-Economic Impacts of Firm Insolvencies

2022 saw the largest number of firm insolvencies (bankruptcies) since 2009 in England and Wales. Professor Simon Collinson, Dr Huanjia Ma and Dr Matt Lyons discuss the impact of this on the Birmingham city-region.

The Heavy Weight of Covid Loans on the Hospitality Industry

Tracey Stephenson, Managing Director of Staying Cool, discusses how the UK’s hospitality industry suffered disproportionately during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Stay of Execution: The Desperate Situation of the Hospitality Sector

1 in 18 licenced premises have been lost between June 2022 and June 2023. Anne-Marie Simpson, Owner of Simpsons Gin Bar, discusses her experiences as a business owner in tough economic times. 



People: Challenging Times

Recent years have proven challenging for residents and workers in Greater Birmingham. The pandemic posed a challenge to health, social well-being and economic prosperity. This has been followed by a cost of living crisis which is placing financial hardship on household incomes, though inflation does appear to be easing. These challenges are acutely impacting those most vulnerable in the city region.

This chapter of the Birmingham Economic Review for 2023 assesses the state of the region's populace, including demography, health, employment, skills, pay and deprivation.



Birmingham and the Index of Multiple Deprivation

Magda Cepeda Zorrilla discusses how the Index of Multiple Deprivation shows that more than 60% of Birmingham’s population lives in the lowest levels of deprivation.

Self-Employment in the West Midlands

Darja Reuschke looks at the impact the pandemic had on self-employment in Birmingham and the West Midlands. 

Economic Inactivity in the West Midlands

Anne Green examines rates of economic inactivity in the West Midlands. Who is inactive and why?

Unemployment in Greater Birmingham and the UK

Donald Houston looks at levels of unemployment in Greater Birmingham and how the region compares with other metropolitan areas in the UK. 

The Midlands Recruitment Sector in 2023

Jack Stockport, Business Technology Manager from SF Recruitment discusses some of the key factors behind the encouraging performance of the Midlands recruitment sector



Place: Sustainable Communities and Pride in Place

The Greater Birmingham city-region is one of the most well-connected areas of the country, both geographically and digitally. Significant investments have been made in recent years to improve the geographical and digital mobility of communities across the region, opening up access to opportunities. However, changes in working patterns following the pandemic may have reduced the full impact that these developments would have otherwise brought.

This chapter of the Birmingham Economic Review for 2023 provides an update on changes to transport mobility patterns and their impact on the city centre and the environment, alongside updates on transport connectivity, digital connectivity, housing delivery and the office market.



The Demand and Challenges of the Sprint Public Transport System in Birmingham

Sara Hassan and Magda Cepeda-Zorrilla discuss whether a Bus Rapid Transit system could help reduce passenger travel times.

Energy and Housing in Birmingham

Annum Rafique looks at how much energy we are using in the city region, where it comes from and what kind of houses we live in.

Occupier Demand in the West Midlands

Charles Toogood, Principal and Managing Director for National Offices and Lease Advisory Team, Avison Young, discusses factors impacting occupier demand in the West Midlands. 



Challenges and Opportunities

Recent years have been very challenging for both businesses and residents in Greater Birmingham, in the context of crises on global, national and regional scales. Our city-region faces significant challenges as a result, however, there are also significant opportunities for the region, with rapid growth in new and emerging sectors, strong partnerships between businesses, local government and universities, and significant devolution of power and funding from national government to WMCA.

This chapter of the Birmingham Economic Review for 2023 will analyse critical challenges and opportunities facing the Greater Birmingham area.



Challenges and Opportunities in Rapidly Changing Business Support Landscapes

Juliane Schwarz and Fumi Kitagawa discuss the ever-changing landscape of business support, and what role Universities can play.

The Role of Universities in Birmingham’s Economy and Communities

Sara Hassan and Hannes Read discuss how universities in Birmingham can act as anchors and civic institutions for the benefit of the city-region. 


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