The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has released its Quarterly Economic Survey Q4 2019.
The largest survey of its kind in the UK, the Quarterly Economic Survey Q4 2019 is a leading indicator of GDP growth, and the information provided by the BCC – representing 75,000 businesses in all sectors – found indicators in the service sector worsened, while manufacturing and export orders were negative for two successive quarters for the first time in approximately a decade.
In terms of the service sector – one that accounts for nearly 80% of the UK’s economic output, all key indicators worsened when compared to Q3 2019, and remain well below their historic average.
Elsewhere in the Quarterly Economic Survey Q4 2019, the balance of manufacturers reporting a domestic and export sales rise did improve slightly, but the balance of those manufacturers reporting increased export and domestic orders remains negative, following on from Q3 2019.
By historic standards, investment plans remain week, with manufacturers’ intentions to increase plant and machinery investment dropping to its lowest level since the end of 2011.
And although cashflow, which is a key indicator of the health of any business – improved in Q4 from what was its lowest level in eight years, it still remains weak across manufacturing and service industries.
Dr Adam Marshall, BCC’s Director General, said the break in parliament’s deadlock should now result in the government stimulating business growth, whilst also highlighting the need for a “clear future trading relationship with the EU” in post-Brexit Britain.
He said: “The end of political deadlock at Westminster must also bring action to renew business confidence and tackle the prolonged stagnation that’s affecting so much of the UK economy.
“The government must use its newfound majority to take big decisions to stimulate growth.
“If minsters take action to reduce up-front costs, move key infrastructure projects forward, and to help businesses on training, they’ll be rewarded with increased investment.
“However, they must also move quickly to ensure that Brexit is done right. A clear future trading relationship with the EU is also crucial to many firms’ future investment and growth prospects.”