Commenting on the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing 0.1% growth in UK GDP for the three months to April 2023, East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “While it is reassuring to see we continue to avoid the widely-forecast recession, which demonstrates the great resilience of our businesses, these latest figures indicate the UK is trapped on a low-growth trajectory.
“With the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), of which East Midlands Chamber is one of the largest members, forecasting 0.3% growth for the whole of 2023, it illustrates the challenges facing our economy.
“The deeply-entrenched nature of the cost-of-doing-business crisis is forcing many SMEs to hold back on their investment plans, with investment intentions for training, as well as plant and machinery, down by 3% and 1% for East Midlands firms in our latest research.
“However, our Quarterly Economic Survey for Q2 2023 also signals some positive trends when it comes to sales, cashflow and pricing expectations, which means there is increased confidence regarding profitability over the coming months.
“This suggests we may well be turning a corner but if we are to truly reach meaningful, long-term economic growth, the Government must focus on what we call the ‘four Is’ – investment, innovation, infrastructure and international trade – in our regional economic blueprint, titled A Centre of Trading Excellence: A Business Manifesto for Growth in the East Midlands and Beyond.
“Following three years of economic shocks, a stronger investment environment would ease the tightness in the labour market, tackle stubbornly high inflation and significantly improve our trading relationships at a time when the BCC is also forecasting a 4.7% decline in exports this year.”