This week’s news that UK inflation fell sharply in October to its lowest rate in two years at 4.6% down from 6.7% the previous month, is encouraging. However, the reality for consumers is that prices are still worryingly high, affecting spending and hitting just about every business.
The government says its pledge to halve inflation by end of the year has been met early. But there is a limit to how much credit ministers can take for the fall as energy prices continue to fall from their record highs of last winter.
Economists have said the main reason inflation has fallen from its peak of 11.1% in October 2022 is due to a fall this month in the energy price cap, which limits what suppliers can charge consumers per unit of energy. They also note the Bank of England’s decision to raise interest rates, in a bid to cool demand in the UK economy and slow price rises. Rates are currently at 5.25%, a 15-year high, which has pushed up mortgage costs but also led to higher savings rates.
The data shows prices in the production sector continue to fall with input producer price inflation (PPI) now at –2.6%. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Quarterly Economic Survey to which many of our members contribute, has been showing a fall in the number of firms expecting their prices to rise for the past five quarters.
Despite that, many firms are still struggling to invest, as they face the challenges of high interest rates, skills shortages and difficult trading conditions.
Next week’s Autumn Statement is an opportunity for the government to outline a clear strategy for growth. My previous blog was all about how Chambers of Commerce are calling for action from the Chancellor on planning, the energy grid, full expensing, business rates and occupational health.
Movement on these crucial issues can provide a springboard for business investment which will be the cornerstone of sustainable economic growth.
So, it is timely that Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) is now open for responses.
The QES is the largest and most representative independent business survey of its kind in the UK and is closely watched by policymakers such as the Treasury, the Bank of England and the Office of Budget Responsibility whilst attracting a significant amount of media attention. Results are collated and fed into the BCC survey, and we really want to keep up our above average representative sample of how our local businesses are performing and an indication of future outlook. Surveys can be completed anonymously if you wish to, and the closing date is 5pm on Friday 24th November.
It would be greatly appreciated if you could add your input. It only takes a couple of minutes to complete the survey which you can find at this link: https://forms.office.com/e/tUmdeV965u
I would also be grateful if you could please forward the survey link to your business contacts and encourage them to take part.
If you want to talk to us about any business issues, including funding, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222, call the Business Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce are working with the Staffordshire Police, Crime and Fire Commissioner to support businesses across the region by offering free Domestic Abuse Workplace Champions training.
These Champions will get training to help to spot the signs of domestic abuse in the workplace and act as a confidential and supportive figure, being able to signpost to help and advice.
The dates of the next sessions are as follows:-
11 October 2023 – 09:30am until 16:00pm – This session is face to face in Stoke
16/17 November 2023 – 10:00am until 13:00 – This session is online and delegates must attend both dates.
7/8 December 2023 – 10:00am until 13:00 – This session is online and delegates must attend both dates.
If you are interested in being involved – contact Kelly.email@example.com
The Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement and the New Zealand-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement came into force on 31st May with the promise of fewer tariffs (on more than 99% of Australian goods exported to the UK and on all UK goods to Australia). The aim is to cut red tape and make it easier for UK citizens to live and work ‘down under’ and in NZ. For UK firms exporting green goods and services to New Zealand, the agreement offers world leading terms.
It is hoped that this will increase bilateral trade with Australia by 53% and New Zealand by 59% although there are concerns that this will be £2.3bn p.a. by 2035 which is only 0.08% of GDP. Trade between the UK and Australia was worth £15.1bn in the four quarters to the end of Q4 2022, while UK trade with New Zealand was worth £2.5bn in the same period.
It is new era of international trade as these are the UK’s first post-Brexit deals to come into force and they come just weeks after the UK concluded negotiations to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free trade area worth £9tn.
Of course, the success of any free trade agreement comes down to whether businesses use it and across the UK only 10% of firms are currently exporting. If we are to realise the UK’s ambition to be at the forefront of the continuing revolution in life sciences, digital services and green innovation we must look to trade more.
A recent British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) survey found almost a quarter of firms (23%) said finding a business partner or distributor overseas would encourage them to either start exporting or export more.
There are strong Chambers of Commerce in both Australia and New Zealand that are affiliated to the BCC, and we will be working with them to get the most from these trade deals for all our economies.
Having those contacts, that local market understanding and full recognition of the rules and procedures that apply in a destination country can make all the difference between success and failure.
If you are thinking about selling goods and services to New Zealand and Australia now is a good time to take the plunge.
For help and advice on exporting to Australia and New Zealand or any other countries, contact the team at the Chamber: firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteers’ Week 2023
2023 marks the 39th year of Volunteers’ Week (1-7th June), as Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce joins thousands of charities and voluntary organisations recognising the contribution volunteers make across the UK. This year’s theme of ‘Celebrate and Inspire’ aims to encourage people to be the change that we want to see and get involved in volunteering in whatever way works for them.
The contribution of volunteers is often unseen, visible only through the incredible impact of their volunteering, so taking the time during Volunteers’ Week to celebrate their efforts and all they contribute to our local communities, the voluntary sector and society, has never been more important.
Staffordshire businesses have a long tradition of putting back into the communities in which they are based through their charitable actions and by encouraging employees to volunteer, be that for a few hours a month or on a more regular basis.
Our local charities, hospitals, schools, and community groups simply could not operate at the level they do without the enormous contribution from volunteers.
And it’s not just the recipients that benefit from volunteering. It is a proven fact that those who volunteer become better team workers and have greater job satisfaction in turn boosting retention and enhancing reputation both as an employer and a socially responsible organisation.
If you would like to get more of your employees involved in volunteering, we can help put you in touch with local organisations and charities that are always looking for willing volunteers.
Contact us via the details below and for more information on Volunteers’ Week click here:
If you want to talk to us about any business issues, including funding, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email: email@example.com
If you are a Staffordshire Chambers member, you can benefit from Staffordshire Chambers Energy Services provided by Troo. This service is specifically designed to assist Staffordshire Chambers members in reducing their electricity, gas, and water expenditure, ultimately leading to increased efficiency in operations.
Members can receive a free energy health check and potentially save thousands of pounds per year on their business energy. The account managers at Staffordshire Chambers Energy Services are committed to finding you the most cost-effective energy deals by comparing prices across various suppliers.
For registered business members, Staffordshire Chambers Energy Services offers the following:
- A free assessment of current energy contracts
- Assistance in negotiating competitive market rates
- Ongoing account management and advice
In addition to the above, Staffordshire Chambers Energy Services’ advisers can also analyse your electricity and gas bills to identify if you are being overcharged. If you are running a larger operation, on-site audits of your energy and water usage can also be arranged, and if necessary, they can manage on-site works for meter upgrades.
Take advantage of the free initial assessment offered by our advisers by getting in touch today.
Tel: 0800 058 1950
The products offered within the Staffordshire Chambers Member Services programme are provided by the suppliers mentioned above and not by Staffordshire Chambers itself. Staffordshire Chambers merely acts as an introducer.
Staffordshire Chambers has exercised reasonable care in selecting the suppliers, taking account of a range of matters, which might include product range, pricing and/or service levels, depending on the service in question.
However, Staffordshire Chambers cannot and does not give any guarantee or accept any responsibility to members as to the value for money or suitability of any particular product. It is the member’s decision whether to select the product, after having taken professional advice if necessary.
Members should note that Staffordshire Chambers may receive commission or other payments from suppliers in respect of their status as “preferred suppliers” and/or in respect of products sold to members.
By using Staffordshire Chambers Energy Services, members agree that Staffordshire Chambers may retain all such payments. Details of such payments will be provided in respect of particular products, or on request.
….The fall of the Berlin Wall….
….UK music charts dominated by Jive Bunny….
….Port Vale join Stoke City in the second tier of English football, to reignite “El Ceramico” sporting rivalry!….
It was also a year that saw the launch of the British Chambers’ of Commerce (BCC) Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) and a third of a century later, QES is still recognised as a valuable source of business trends across the regions and country as a whole. QES is the largest and most representative independent business survey of its kind in the UK and is closely watched by policymakers such as the Treasury, the Bank of England and the Office of Budget Responsibility. It also attracts a significant amount of media attention.
QES covers a number of specific topics, starting with the UK Market and questions on whether current and future sales are up, down or unchanged. Businesses are asked about current and future changes in workforce numbers. The survey moves on to look at questions on cashflow and investment, before closing with an update on business confidence.
Surveys are open during a three week period, from Monday 15th May to Friday 2nd June and can be completed as a paper copy or online:
The surveys can be completed anonymously and once submitted, all responses are collated and shared with the British Chambers’ of Commerce, who will announce headline results in July. From a Staffordshire perspective, we can use the data to make a comparison on trends between national and local data. With the QES aggregated from businesses sourced by the Chamber of Commerce network from across the UK, it continues to be one of the UK’s largest and most representative private business surveys.
QES covers both the manufacturing sector (25% of respondents) and services sector (75%).and a high proportion of respondents from both sectors, are exporters. The survey covers businesses of all sizes, with the vast majority of respondents falling in to the Small and medium sized enterprises (SME) category of under 250 employees. Each quarter, the QES is made available before official statistics (such as GDP growth), and so provides an up to the minute picture of business sentiment.
Your views can make such a difference, so please take the time to complete the latest QES and please encourage your business contacts to do the same. Getting a good mix of survey responses, will help to build a picture of what’s happening here in Staffordshire and will also feed in ai a national level. It takes less than 90 seconds to complete and once again, here’s the online link:
If you have any questions, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Business owners and leaders are being urged to complete the new Quarterly Economic Survey for Q2 2023 to help inform policymakers on the challenges facing businesses in our local area.
This is one of the most important times for businesses across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire to complete the QES following a period of price hikes that has heaped pressure on organisations of all sizes.
The information you provide will help to shape policy thinking as the data is shared with the British Chambers of Commerce, Government departments including HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office as well as the Bank of England.
We are keen to hear from firms of all shapes and sizes as it will help create an accurate picture of the current business landscape.
Whether you’re a seasoned director or relatively new to your company, please spare just a few minutes to fill in the anonymous survey.
We understand your time is precious, even more so now, so thank you to all those who complete the survey. Click here.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is calling on members of the business community to join the fostering community and make a real difference to a child’s life. Being a foster carer is a life-changing experience that requires just a spare room and a little bit of spare time, even as little as one weekend a month.
There is no such thing as a typical foster carer. People of any age, gender, marital status, religious or cultural background, or sexual orientation are encouraged to join the fostering community. Stoke-on-Trent City Council is eager to hear from anyone who is interested in becoming a foster carer.
When you choose to foster with Stoke-on-Trent City Council, you will receive professional allowance, exceptional training, and support, with ongoing development throughout. The friendly team is on hand to answer any questions you may have by calling 01782 234555 or visiting https://fostering.stoke.gov.uk/.
As part of their ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the fostering community in Stoke-on-Trent, several events have been planned in the coming weeks. On Tuesday, May 16th, an informal drop-in session will be held at Starbucks in Smallthorne from 3pm-4.30pm. On Wednesday, May 17th, there will be a foster carers celebration day at Grace Church Unit B in Hanley from 11am-1pm. Finally, on Wednesday, May 31st, there will be a foster carers meet up and picnic at Longton Park from 11am-1pm.
Don’t miss this opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life. Contact Stoke-on-Trent City Council today to find out more about fostering and how you can get involved.
Love Cheese Live, UK’s largest cheese, food & drink festival, is set to take place on 30 June – 1 July 2023 at the Staffordshire County Show Ground in Stafford. This festival promises to offer an unforgettable culinary experience for food lovers across the country.
With a fantastic line-up of the best chefs and experts cooking live, visitors will have the opportunity to learn from the best and be inspired to create their own delicious cheese-based dishes. The festival will also showcase the finest dairy brands, exciting new flavors, and the latest culinary trends, alongside carefully selected independent producers of the finest food, drink, and culinary products from across the UK.
Love Cheese Live will offer visitors the chance to shop and taste a vast array of cheese, food, and drink products from some of the country’s top culinary artisans and independent producers. With something to suit every taste and preference, this festival is the perfect destination for cheese and food enthusiasts alike.
As a special offer, Staffordshire Chambers members can receive a 50 percent discount on ticket prices by using the code “staffsbusiness” at the checkout.
Don’t miss out on this incredible culinary experience. Get your tickets now and join us at Love Cheese Live in Stafford on 30 June – 1 July 2023.