Today the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce publishes its Quarter 2 Economic Survey, a barometer of business performance and confidence across the region. Thank you to those who have responded to our report, your feedback helps us to build an accurate and detailed picture of local business trends. These results feed into the national British Chambers' survey. Some headlines from our Q2 survey:
UK SALES AND ORDERS FLAT
EXPORT SALES AND ORDERS RALLY SLIGHTLY
WELCOME RISE IN EMPLOYMENT
EMPLOYMENT EXPECTATIONS RALLY
INFLATION AND EXCHANGE RATES REMAIN KEY EXTERNAL WORRIES
Chamber Head of Policy, Steven Leigh, comments on the Q2 survey:
This Q2 survey more or less confirms what we already know, that business confidence is low (and is likely to remain that way until there is a proper resolution to the Eurozone crisis), that the economy continues to rumble along at low levels of activity, and that external factors such as Exchange Rates and Inflation continue to add uncertainty into the mix. This is disappointing considering the bullish nature of the Q1 Survey which appeared to contradict the official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and indicated that businesses had started the New Year with a more optimistic outlook. However, there are certain findings elsewhere in this Q2 survey which defy the overall economic situation. For example, export orders and sales have shown modest improvements, employment has continued its upward trend and concerns over price pressures have reduced considerably.
The growth in employment is unexpected good news. We certainly hope that the Q3 Survey will indicate further employment growth - and that momentum gained in the first half of this year will be maintained.
Continuing financial difficulties in European markets, and the wider global slowdown, presently makes exporting particularly difficult – especially in light of the strengthening Pound (especially against the Euro). Chambers of Commerce occupy a vital role in helping to facilitate International Trade, providing support at a local level on documentation, translation, peer-to-peer advice, training and in many other export-related fields. As a network the British Chambers are committed to increasing trade volumes and to encouraging and supporting exporters at a local level. We are therefore heartened by these Quarter 2 figures, particularly as they follow positive results in Quarter 1.
Access to finance remains a key impediment as the list of failed or abandoned Government schemes to ease the availability of credit grows longer. The latest initiative announced by the Chancellor is ‘Funding for Lending’. Our enthusiasm for this is tempered with caution in view of past disappointments – as ever, the devil will be in the detail. The Government must ensure that this scheme is made to work, because amongst all the complex factors which are affecting our economic recovery probably the most significant single issue is the availability of affordable finance – and until this problem is sorted out it will continue to be a major inhibitor to growth in the UK economy.