The 2013/05/03 at 08:39
Stéphanie Salti, in London
British enterprises are beginning to get their hopes back up. According to The Quarterly Economic Survey published by the British Chambers (BCC) at the start of April, British enterprises from both the production and services sectors, show much more confidence in the economy than in recent quarters. True, levels of activity are far off the ones reached prior to the 2008 crisis, but improvements are visible. The balances – in other words the difference between positive and negative opinions – in service exports are particularly resistant, recalling the records from 1994, according to the BCC.
Having surveyed over 7,000 British enterprises, the body also noted a boost in business confidence: many more businesses believe that they will see improvements in their turnovers (+3% in the industrial sector and 2 % in the services sector) and greater profitability (+3% in industry to +33%, in other words the highest level recorded since the last quarter of 1997, and no change for services). Above all, businesses now seem open to re-embark on investment policies. The movement nevertheless remains measured: enterprises in the industrial sector wishing to relaunch their investments notch a three-point rise while service enterprises, up by 4 points, have recorded their best level since the start of the financial crisis at the end of 2007.
The only big disappointment is in the domain of employment prospects: while the British unemployment rate remains one of the best in Europe, enterprises from all sectors remain highly sceptical about the prospects of recruitment: the balance in industrial firms fell by 4 points to 11 % and by 3 points to +6% for services. But overall, results for the different indicators have been interpreted positively by the BCC. “Although the progress seen in the first quarter of this year is modest, it is progress nonetheless,” comments John Longworth, Director General of the BCC.
“Business confidence has increased further, and it is really encouraging to see export orders and deliveries near to their record high levels in services. This showcases the determination and ambition of our businesses here in the UK, despite continued pressures both at home and abroad.” The BCC thus considers that the British economy will get back on the track of growth in 2013, even it will remain weak. Growth figures published for the first quarter of 2013 seem to prove this view: with GDP up by 0.3 % as opposed to expectations of a +0.1% rise, the British economy has started the year by avoiding a triple recession.