FYLDE business leaders today played down the UK’s return to recession.
The economy shrank 0.2 per cent in the first three months of 2012, following a 0.3 per cent fall in the last quarter of 2011, giving the UK two consecutive quarters of contraction – the technical requirement for a recession.
During the past 18 months, the economy has slipped between periods of growth and contraction as predicted, but the two dips in a row are a blow to the UK – as will be today’s expected announcement of 2,000 job losses at HSBC across the UK.
However, Stewart Case, corporate services director at chartered accountants and business advisors Moore and Smalley, said: “This latest economic data serves as a reminder that it’s still a tough environment out there for businesses.
“However, it had been predicted the UK will dip in and out of recession before we see a definite and sustained recovery, so these latest GDP figures, although slightly worse than anticipated, should not come as a huge surprise.”
Mr Case, who works at the firm’s Blackpool Business Park office, added: “We must remember this is a ‘technical’ recession with only slight contraction in growth, caused mainly by a fall in output for the construction sector, rather than a deep slump.
“Business owners need to ensure they focus on their own business sector and the things they can control.
“We are still seeing a lot of businesses doing well because their owners are showing leadership and making the right decisions.”
Steve Pye, chairman of the Fylde coast branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, agreed.
He said: “We have to be aware that the figures released are not the full picture.
“We’re talking here mainly about a slowdown in the construction trade at the end of last year and the start of this year – at a time when the trade is traditionally low.
“They’ve not taken into account what could be seasonal variations.
“The world will not stop turning. The pound hardly lost anything in the markets, which shows people aren’t concerned about it.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said the figures were “very, very disappointing” while Labour leader Ed Miliband put the double dip down to the Government’s “catastrophic economic policy”.
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said: “It is pretty dreadful news – the economy is bumping along the bottom, as has been said.
“The Government wants people to go into self-employment and is telling small businesses to carry on and take people on but is not giving them the tax or education breaks they need to do so.”