Wednesday, July 15, 2020

There must be early resolution to Brexit, says Chamber boss

WITH continuing uncertainty around the “B” word, perhaps it is no surprise that in the third quarter of the year, Humber businesses were concerned about exchange rates, interest rates and inflation, all of which showed marked increases.

Chamber Chief Executive, Dr Ian Kelly, said: “Looking at this quarter’s figures, it is clear the economy is still struggling in the face of uncertainty and therefore the Chamber continues to call for an early resolution to Brexit.

“We think business and the electorate feel the sooner this Brexit saga is brought to a conclusion the better so that the Government is allowed to move on and run the country properly.

“We welcome the idea of a new Queen’s Speech and the chance to move forward with greater clarity for the national and local business community.”

According to research by the Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce, concerns over business rates were also higher than in the second quarter, however concerns over tax issues remained stable, but were still up nine points over the first period of this year.

On the Home front, those firms reporting an increase in Home Sales rose by one point, while Home Orders rose by four points, although the balance figure for Home Sales dropped six points overall.

Export Sales and Export Orders were both down this quarter, with Export Orders showing the biggest drop compared to Q2.

Employment also dropped slightly in the last three months with fewer firms reporting that they were recruiting staff.

For the next three months, recruitment looks fairly static, with the same balance figure of 20 as we saw for the second quarter, but both of those figures were down 9 points on the first quarter of 2019.

Looking at the type of roles firms were seeking to fill, the only increase was for unskilled or semi-skilled positions, but the good news is that these were for permanent positions, while part-time and temporary positions were both down.

In the last three months, business reported that their cashflow was fairly consistent, with a drop in the balance figure of just two points, compared to last quarter.

In more positive news, four percent more firms said they would invest in plant or machinery, but on the training front, fewer firms said they would invest in training their staff, with the balance figure dropping six points to six.

Turnover and profit expectations for the next 12 months were also taking a hit, with the balance figure for turnover expectations dropping by 15 points to three.

Profit expectations dropped into negative territory with a balance figure of -10 representing a 13 point drop on the second quarter.

The number of firms reporting that were working at full capacity also fell back by three percent on the last quarter.

The biggest pressure on prices reported related to finance with eight per cent more firms expressing concerns, while pay settlements were less of a concern this time around.

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