Commenting on the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing 0% growth in UK GDP in February 2023, East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “These figures, which indicate the UK economy continues to head off a widely-forecast recession, once again demonstrate the great resilience of our businesses, which are doing all they can to drive forward the economy despite the huge cost pressures they continue to face.
“Like we saw during the pandemic, many firms are able to adapt quickly to a tough trading environment to diversify their revenue streams and seek new opportunities, which is how we end up with innovative products and services.
“There are signs of optimism and growth ahead, with the Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey for Q1 2023 painting a more positive picture among the East Midlands business community than what we saw towards the end of last year.
“Uncertainty has been replaced with confidence – in part due to a more stable political environment compared to 2022 – there has been a turnaround in sales and companies are now expecting to employ more people.
Government must improve business conditions to boost growth
“However, this optimism remains fragile as the cost-of-doing-business crisis has diminished margins and restricted investment, and this improving sentiment is yet to translate into sustained growth.
“With the British Chambers of Commerce forecasting GDP to contract overall by 0.3% in 2023, a view echoed by the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook published earlier this week, it’s vital the Government knuckles down on shifting the dial on growth, which remains stubbornly low.
“Westminster has not addressed some of the major issues holding firms back, such as the energy price shock and record tightness in the labour market.
“More broadly, it must focus on what we call the ‘four Is’ in our East Midlands Business Manifesto for Growth, A Centre of Trading Excellence – investment, innovation, infrastructure and international trade – in order to achieve what has eluded us for too long and begin a period of meaningful, long-term growth.”