Somerset’s first Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) Breakfast Briefing took place on Wednesday 3 May, highlighting the regional findings from Q1 2017 of the British Chambers’ national business barometer.
Business people from across the county attended the event at Tangier Central in Taunton, which was organised by Somerset Chamber of Commerce and chartered accountants PKF Francis Clark.
John Endacott, Partner and Head of Tax at PKF Francis Clark, summarised the QES findings from the South West. Overall he reported that business confidence was improving and that there is still plenty of appetite from regional businesses for maintaining or increasing their levels of capital expenditure. While the growth of UK sales is stronger than export sales in the South West, he remarked that it takes time for a fall in sterling to feed through into export led growth.
The survey findings showed concern from South West businesses over issues such as inflation, although Mr Endacott explained that this was to be expected after the fall in sterling that followed the referendum result. Other key areas of concern for the region’s businesses included taxation, interest rates and the impact of business rates.
Summing up, Mr Endacott said, “The QES shows that the South West business community is reasonably confident about the outlook for economic growth and UK sales growth is still strong. There are some concerns though, including increasing business regulation and tax burdens, skills shortages and rising inflation.”
Somerset Chamber Chief Executive, Dale Edwards, commented, “I’m delighted in the feedback we have received to the first in our new series of QES events, which have been developed so that we can share the intelligence from the Quarterly Economic Survey with local businesses. The QES not only gives businesses a great opportunity to voice their views on a wide range of issues, but it also provides valuable information and benchmarking data, delivering a useful snapshot of the current economic environment. We would encourage all businesses, whether they’re members of the Chamber or not, to have their say in order to help highlight the needs of our local economy and ensure that Somerset’s voice is heard by national policymakers.”
The QES has been the private sector’s leading indicator of the UK economy since 1989 and is closely monitored by policymakers including the government and the Bank of England when making decisions on interest rates and policy.
The fieldwork for the Q2 2017 survey will begin on 22 May and further details will be available at www.somerset-chamber.co.uk/qes
Run by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the QES is the UK’s largest and most representative independent business survey, published in advance of official figures and consistently mirroring trends in official data. Each quarter, over 7,500 businesses participate and are questioned on a wide range of issues, including home sales and orders, export sales and orders, employment prospects, investment, recruitment difficulties, cashflow, confidence and price pressures.