Business confidence soars in new survey

Stephen Gregson and (below) Babs Murphy
Stephen Gregson and (below) Babs Murphy
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Despite the worrying US political row which is casting a dark cloud over the world economy, businesses across the Fylde are looking on the bright side.

The latest quarterly economic survey from Lancashire’s three chambers of commerce and Moore and Smalley Chartered Accountants shows confidence has soared, while there has been a huge 45 per cent rise in manufacturing sales compared to the same period last year when it slumped by -10 per cent.

Babs Murphy

Babs Murphy

The survey shows improvements in most key areas for both manufacturing and services compared with the second quarter of this year, with many balances now stronger than in the past two years.

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber, said: “It is fantastic to see our small yet dynamic manufacturing sector doing so well, with our results suggesting a recent growth spurt. However, we need to ensure that this does not become an aberration, but rather the norm, particularly when the economic recovery is still facing external risks.

“External shocks from the US shutdown and continued risks elsewhere in the world could all impact on our fragile recovery. At home, the impact of reducing the deficit, fixing the banking system, and the relentless squeeze on living standards will inevitably act as a constraint on growth in the next few years.

“All this means that it is vital to sustain the recovery.

“The MPC must continue its forward guidance on interest rates, and must work to bring inflation down without increasing its QE programme.

“The Government must switch policy priorities towards measures to boost growth such as infrastructure investment, cutting business rates and taxes, promoting exports, and boosting the flow of lending through a fully-funded Business Bank.”

Stephen Gregson, director of corporate finance at Moore and Smalley, said: “The continued improvement in confidence levels across both sectors and particularly so in manufacturing is very welcome. As others have pointed out, the key question is whether this survey’s results come to be regarded as the ‘turning of the tide’ or merely a brief burst of better news.”

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