I have not been looking forward to seeing the results of the latest British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) published earlier this week.
It seems that my fears were well founded with the survey concluding that UK economic conditions deteriorated at an unprecedented rate in the second quarter of 2020. In fact, it was the worst set of results in the 31 years of the survey’s existence.
Hopes of a swift economic recovery could be dashed, as forward-looking indicators – orders and investment intentions – dropped to record lows for both services firms and manufacturers.
Cashflow, a key indicator of business’ health, is at its lowest level with two thirds of respondents reporting worsening cashflow.
With such a stark warning to our economic welfare and with the Chancellor’s economic statement due later this month, the BCC, with Staffordshire Chambers input, has set out measures to ensure matters do not deteriorate, including:
· Supporting jobs through substantial reductions in employer National Insurance Contributions
· Supporting cash-flow through wider business rate reliefs and extended loan and grant schemes
· Supporting young people through wage subsidies for apprenticeships and work experience
· Supporting investment in productivity, people, and carbon reduction through major incentives
· Stimulating demand e.g. via targeted ‘restart vouchers’ for all UK households, or a temporary VAT cut; and
· Streamlining regulatory processes to make life easier for businesses without compromising safety or the environment
If you feel there is anything you would like to add to this list, please let us know by emailing your suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
On a much more optimistic note this is a landmark weekend as many more non-essential businesses including pubs, restaurants and hairdressers and accommodation reopen after more than 100 days of lockdown.
I know that business owners have been working incredibly hard to make sure their premises are geared up for safe trading with increased hygiene, social distancing measures and technology to keep customers and staff safe.
You will probably have no chance of visiting any of these establishments this weekend if you have not already booked. However, it is not just about this weekend but about helping these and all our businesses to survive. In making that happen, we all have a part to play and I am sure you will join me in wishing them luck this weekend and by visiting them in the coming weeks and months.
If you want to talk to us about any business issues, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002. We also have a Twitter hour each Tuesday and Friday from 11am – 12noon #StaffsChamberChat