Economic survey shows muted growth

Alan Welsh
Alan Welsh

The results of the latest Quarterly Economic Survey from the Chamber of Commerce shows that the Lancashire economy grew at a muted rate in the third quarter of 2017.

The Q3 survey, compiled by the county’s Chambers of Commerce in association with Moore and Smalley Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors, indicates another strong quarter for manufacturing firms both in terms of UK and overseas sales.

However, export orders have weakened and this will give further cause for concern following the recent announcement by British Aerospace to streamline their operations in Lancashire. The results also reveal a drop in the proportion of manufacturing firms reporting increased workforce levels in Q3.

In the services sector, the main driver of the economy, the percentage of firms reporting improved domestic sales and orders increased marginally on the second quarter of 2017. However, most other measures including export sales, employment expectations and business investment remained static or saw muted growth.

The latest results also confirm that rising costs remain a worry for businesses, particularly in manufacturing. However, while still high by historic standards, the easing in a number of indicators of pricing pressures since the start of the year suggests that inflation will peak sooner rather than later – by the end of the year.

Alan Welsh, Policy Manager at the North and Western Lancashire Chamber, said: “The slightly disappointing results in our third quarter findings reflect the fact that political uncertainty, currency fluctuations and the vagaries of the Brexit process are continuing to weigh on business growth prospects.

“There is clear evidence that business investment is slowing, cashflow is worsening and employers are having difficulty recruiting skilled workers.”