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C&W Chamber Reveals Latest QES Results

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Louise Bennett

Brexit hasn’t broken confidence among businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire but it appears to have dampened it. The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce has completed its latest Quarterly Economic Survey among firms across the city and the county – the first conducted since the decision to leave the EU.

Just 20 per cent of service sector companies across the region are forecasting growth in staffing levels in the next three months while three-quarters say they will keep headcount the same.

In manufacturing, 33 per cent of businesses surveyed indicated that they will be growing the team and 57 per cent said they would be remaining the same.

From a turnover perspective, 65 per cent of service-based businesses believe it will rise in the next 12 months and 54 per cent in manufacturing said they expected it to go up. Six months ago, almost three quarters of businesses across all sectors in Coventry and Warwickshire were anticipating a rise in turnover.

Louise Bennett, the chief executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The survey bears out what we are hearing anecdotally – Brexit has created uncertainty among businesses, rather than causing a confidence nose-dive.

“Companies forecasting growth in turnover is down on where it was six months ago and if you go back before that, our final survey of 2015 was extremely positive.

“Can we put it all down to the referendum? It’s hard to say, at this stage, but I am very clear – and so are the markets – that all the uncertainty and all of the talk around hard and soft Brexit is doing nothing for businesses who want to get on and grow.

“When we launched Go For Growth at the beginning of this year, the EU referendum vote was on the horizon and we knew there would be some uncertainty in the build-up.

“We earmarked it as a potential barrier to growth but the decision to leave took most commentators by surprise.

“What we can’t do, is pin everything on the EU vote. When we are out talking to companies and throughout the year-long campaign, factors such as being able to access the right property, the right skills and the right funds to grow have all been highlighted, as well as Brexit.

“I would, therefore, urge the Government to try to reassure business about the UK’s position with regards to the EU but also look to the Autumn Statement in November and begin to look at ways overcome some of those barriers to growth that we have raised.

“I would also say to businesses that export is a great opportunity to access new markets and to grow your business – and the Chamber’s international trade hub is the perfect starting point.”

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