Reflections on the research: The economic contribution of private equity and venture capital backed businesses in the UK
At the end of April, the BVCA published an independent study — produced by The Ernst & Young LLP (EY) QUEST (Quantitative Economics and Statistics) practice — quantifying the economic contribution of private equity and venture capital to the UK’s economy in 2021. You can read it here.
The study found that private capital directly supports, i.e. through portfolio companies, 2 million jobs — or 6% of all UK jobs. These employees collectively earn £58bn (average earnings of £30,000) and generate over £100bn of GDP — or 5% of all UK GDP.
When you include the indirect economic contribution of these businesses, in terms of supply chain and consumer spending, the figures are almost doubled — to a little under 4 million jobs and a little over £200bn contribution to GDP.
This blog explores why we commissioned this research from EY, how the figures compare to the BVCA’s in-house figures and why the study is so important.
A tried and tested methodology which we knew to be robust was of paramount importance, so it made sense to approach the Quantitative and Economic Statistics team at EY. Not only had they produced similar analysis for other trade associations, but their approach uses Pitchbook data which can be replicated by interested parties to test the findings.
How do the figures compare?
The BVCA’s in-house research team collects data from our members to produce key reports such as Growing Great British Businesses and our Investment Activity Report. While giving a comprehensive overview of the deal activity of our members, we do not (yet!) capture the whole market.
Using our dataset, we estimated that 1 million+ jobs were in UK businesses backed by our members in 2020. This is broadly in line with the figure of 1.9 million directly supported jobs as estimated by EY, with the allowance for the inclusion of non-BVCA members and the growth of the private capital industry in 2021 — when deal activity was at a high.
Why is this research important?
Private equity and venture capital has expanded significantly over the last decade, investing across the UK’s nations and regions and establishing itself as a driving force for the country’s success. However, this expansion has bought with it increased scrutiny and, in turn, the need to articulate the value private capital brings to the UK economy — something that has never been quantified in one comprehensive study before.
What are the implications?
When an industry represents 5% of the economy, scrutiny is not only expected but encouraged. As such, transparency about the value it brings is necessary and this report is one part of the wider picture.
And, as the saying goes, “with great influence comes great responsibility”. It’s important that when PE and VC are responsible for so many jobs, it’s clearly communicated. This clear communication of what our industry does, how it does it, and who it supports is something both the BVCA and our members are committed to.
For example, the BVCA has long championed many initiatives to improve transparency, including the Walker Guidelines for large company reporting, and designing the International Private Equity Valuation Guidelines. We’re also at the forefront of the thinking about how ‘ESG’ can be measured — our Research Team are working with our members to build reporting frameworks that detail how their businesses are run, and the governance structures they have in place to both look after people and the environment.
Private capital in action
We also want to showcase the many great businesses which private capital supports — through BVCA reports, the BVCA website, and by arranging visits to portfolio companies for interested individuals such as MPs and other policy makers. This allows us to demonstrate private capital in action, supporting jobs, innovation and business growth.
Taken together, this package — in which the new EY study plays a vital role — can, will be, and already is helping us provide our external stakeholders with tangible examples of how our industry is building businesses, benefitting communities, and bringing public value to the UK. Private capital has a story to tell, and we’re telling it loudly.
If you are interested in joining the BVCA you can find more information here.
If you are a BVCA member and interested in providing a case study for inclusion in one of our reports or on our website, please get in touch here.
If you are a BVCA member and interested in hosting a site visit to a portfolio company, please get in touch here.
Head of Research, BVCA