West of England businesses remain confident as EU vote approaches
Business West’s latest survey of businesses in Bristol, Bath and the West of England found that over two thirds of businesses are confident for the year ahead despite some fears of a national slowdown and the growing uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum.
The survey of over 550 companies in February and March showed that:
- Business confidence increased by five points this quarter, standing at a healthy 68%.
- International sales (39%) and orders (37%) rose by six and fifteen points respectively.
- A third of firms intend to recruit over the next three months.
- However, domestic sales (43%) saw a slight decrease, and business confidence is down 6% compared to this time last year.
“Our latest survey shows that our local economy stands in good stead despite warning signs on a national level.
“This research forms part of the national British Chambers of Commerce Quarterly Economic Survey which found that UK economic growth is starting to soften, but here in Bristol and Bath over two thirds of businesses tell us that they are confident for the year ahead.
“In the face of global headwinds and headlines dominated by the EU referendum, our city region continues to push forward and show signs of growth. This reflects the fact that we are the leading city economy and creator of wealth outside of London.
“Whilst we have a successful economy, we also need to ensure we are best equipped to tackle such issues as declining productivity, skills shortages, inadequate infrastructure, congestion and the increasing cost of housing. With challenges globally and also signs of a national slowdown we simply cannot afford to stand still, and its essential that business is able to compete and succeed both now and in the future.
“The business community was delighted the Chancellor announced a long awaited £900 million West of England devolution deal last month and recognises that this was a significant achievement by the four local authorities. This devolution deal will enable us to be better equipped to tackle these key issues which in turn will impact on those who live and work across the West of England.
“As Manchester has already shown, this is a step to strengthen. Its something this area can move to do, and the business community across the West of England is therefore strongly encouraging the councils to formally approve the deal at their forthcoming meetings so it can move forward.”