Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 4th October 2019
Surveys carried out recently by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) have revealed what the organisation describes as being a “worrying drop off in UK economic activity”.
Manufacturers are believed to be particularly struggling, with the balance of companies in the sector seeing increased export orders in the third quarter down to the lowest level recorded in a decade.
Meanwhile, indications are that manufacturers have seen their domestic sales rates decline to levels lower than any recorded since 2011.
Around 6,600 companies are surveyed by the BCC for its quarterly reports, with those businesses accounting for the employment of around 1.2 million people.
The view of the BCC is that its latest numbers reflect an economy that is “sagging under the weight of relentless uncertainty”, particularly in relation to Brexit but also as a result of a deteriorating global economy and international trade wars.
“This is a reality check, not scaremongering or politicking,” said Dr Adam Marshall, the director general of the BCC.
“These are some of the worst figures we’ve seen in a decade – and jobs, businesses, and the future success of our communities are on the line.”
Dr Marshall has called on politicians in Westminster to do whatever is necessary in the coming days to “avoid a messy and disorderly Brexit on October 31st”.
A major concern to emerge from the BCC’s latest data is the extent to which businesses across the country are currently struggling to maintain or improve their cashflow situations.
Among manufacturers, the proportion who reported that their cashflow situation improved during the third quarter fell to an eight-year low.
Cashflow situations among service sector businesses generally held steady across the country in the three months to the end of September but cashflow nonetheless “remains low by historical standards” among service companies, the BCC has said.
The government should “make urgent preparations to support business cashflow” after Brexit, particularly among manufacturers and other areas of the economy where “strains of acute uncertainty are hitting businesses”, according to Dr Marshall from the BCC.