BCC Quarterly Economic Survey: Suffolk’s concerns focus on infrastructure and skills
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Quarterly Economic Survey – Britain’s largest and most authoritative private sector business survey, based on over 8,500 responses from firms in Q1 2016 – suggests that growth in the UK economy continued to soften in the first quarter, with most key survey indicators either static or decreasing.
However, in the longer-term the greatest concern facing Suffolk businesses remain those of the quality of our road and rail networks and the quality of the local skills base.
John Dugmore, Chief Executive, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce said:
"While there will be fluctuations in the economic cycle, it's important to focus on longer term trends which show Suffolk remains one of the best places in the country to do business.
“We want to see continued and sustained growth which is why Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and its members continue to lobby and campaign on key infrastructure investment priorities.
“We will continue to press for improvements to, for example on the A14, the upgrading of the A1307 and to our rail network, all of which will make a major difference in the future.
"Our work with our many partners in delivering projects – such as the Employer Training Incentive Pilot and the Apprenticeships Suffolk Business Service - are all aimed at giving Suffolk an even more skilled workforce, capable of taking advantage of the many business opportunities available locally, nationally and internationally.”
Nationally, several key indicators for the services sector – the UK’s main driver of economic growth – fell slightly this quarter, with domestic sales and orders reaching their lowest level for over three years. For manufacturing, domestic sales fell again, and remain low in historical terms.
While some manufacturing sector indicators have shown slight improvements, these increases are from a very low base. Combined with the slight weakening in some areas of the dominant services sector, the Q1 figures suggest a static picture — with potential downside risks for UK economic growth ahead.