The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is keen for the Chancellor of Exchequer, Philip Hammond, to use next month’s Autumn Statement as a catalyst for easing business concerns and boosting business investment.
The call comes as the BCC publishes its latest Quarterly Economic Survey – the UK’s biggest survey of private sector firms.
The survey displays a mixed picture and flags up falling confidence levels – compared to the previous survey, fewer firms plan to recruit in the next year and fewer anticipate experiencing improvements in their turnover and profitability.
More positively, the findings show that manufacturers have experienced improved domestic and export sales compared with the previous quarter. However, the balance of service sector businesses reporting improved domestic and export sales was at the lowest level seen since 2012.
The survey indicates that the UK economy is continuing to grow – albeit more slowly since the EU referendum – underpinning the BCC’s forecast for economic growth of 1% in 2017.
Nevertheless, the EU referendum uncertainty has seen businesses lower their aspirations for hiring, turnover and investment.
Adam Marshall, Acting Director General, BCC, said: “While many manufacturers have seen something of a bounce this summer, the UK’s services sector has slowed significantly, and our data suggests that slower growth is likely in the months ahead.
“Boosting business must be a key task for Government in the months ahead.
“Firms are concerned over investment, hiring and profitability. The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement is a crucial opportunity to incentivise business investment and overseas trade.
“Given this mixed picture, and muted business investment intentions, the BCC is urging the Government to use next month’s Autumn Statement to boost business confidence – by giving the green light to key infrastructure projects, and by introducing measures that ‘crowd in’ business investment and job creation.”