The results of the latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) from the Chamber of Commerce indicate that the Lancashire economy is still experiencing growth, despite global economic uncertainty and concerns about Britain’s exit from the European Union.
The Q2 2017 survey, compiled by the county’s Chambers of Commerce in association with Moore and Smalley Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors, shows that the manufacturing sector has had a strong quarter in terms of domestic sales whilst the weaker pound has continued to help exports in both sectors.
However, there should be a note of caution as the service sector – which has been the key driver of the economy – has seen the UK sales balance weaken for a second successive quarter.
After a period of relatively weak employment growth, there was a notable rise in workforce levels over the past three months, with an expectation that the positive employment trend will continue in Q3, although perhaps not as strongly in the service sector.
Commenting on the first quarter results, Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber, said: “It’s time for the economy to be put back at the heart of the agenda, with a focus on creating the best possible environment for business growth. The Government must play its part by tackling the issues that hold businesses back, including labour shortages, weaknesses in our physical and digital infrastructure, and high upfront costs which dampen investment intentions and firms’ growth potential.
“Any talk of higher business taxes to pay for politically-motivated spending must be quashed swiftly, to avoid undermining business confidence further.”
The results from the Chambers of Commerce survey were revealed to an audience of local businesses at Preston’s College on Thursday morning (13th July) by Stephen Gregson, Corporate Finance Director at Moore and Smalley.
Commenting on the survey, he said: “Rising inflation remains a key challenge for the UK economy this year. Consumer prices are likely to keep rising in the coming months as the recent sizeable increases in the cost of raw materials and other overheads filter through supply chains. However, while still high, the drop in the balance of firms expecting prices to rise indicates that price pressures at the factory gate have moderated a little.”