Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 9th October 2018
Ongoing uncertainty around the potential nature and ramifications of the UK’s departure from the European Union are “starting to bite” and have a big impact on activity and confidence levels among British businesses.
That’s according to the British Chambers of Commerce, whose figures suggest that the proportion of service firms attempting to make new hires is at its lowest level for 25 years.
Meanwhile, export sales and orders among companies across the country are reported to be at the lowest level recorded since the EU referendum took place in mid-2016.
The BCC summarises the findings of its latest surveys as being indicative of a slowdown among exporters within the manufacturing sector and a situation in which many service firms have “seemingly given up trying to hire new staff”.
All of which “should be a cause for concern”, with the UK widely expected to deliver a slower rate of overall economic growth during 2018 than has been the case during any full-year period since the financial crisis of 10 years ago.
A total of 5,600 businesses were polled as part of the BCC’s survey, with business confidence in turnover and profitability having dipped during the third quarter of this year and investments in machinery and training having fallen to the lowest levels in 12 months.
“Uncertainty over future trading conditions is continuing to act as a brake on business investment in both the manufacturing and services sectors,” the BCC has said.
“The sharp deterioration of the share of firms attempting to recruit is a concern and reflects both persistent hiring difficulties and heightened economic uncertainty - which if sustained could materially weaken jobs growth,” said Suren Thiru, the BCC’s head of economics.
“These figures reinforce what we are hearing from businesses up and down the country – the uncertainty over Brexit, and the lack of bold moves to boost business at home, are starting to bite,” added the BCC’s director general Dr Adam Marshall.
“It should be a matter of grave concern to government that sales and orders both at home and abroad are stagnating.”