Local economy growth being stifled, says business association

MANY businesses in Uttlesford are at odds with the government’s recent pronouncements on the “green shoots of economic recovery”, a recent survey has found.

Newport Business Association – an organisation set up to pro-actively tackle issues affecting the business community – sent the survey to more than 1,500 local companies.

Fewer than half of respondents stated that overall business confidence was higher, and only 55.6 per cent anticipated an improvement in UK demand.

Over 75 per cent planned to invest only the same or less in their business over the coming 12 months, with nearly 82 per cent expecting to employ the same number of people or fewer.

NBS founder Jeremy Rose has little doubt that local opinion reflects national trends.

He said: “Business-owners may be feeling confident they’ll at least still have a business at the end of the year, but they’re working flat out. Having survived the most appalling economic downturn in decades the confidence to take on more staff and expand just isn’t there.

“Many expect more competition – particularly from the Far East. They don’t expect to be able to increase prices, or raise wages, and of course many point out how difficult it is to borrow the money needed to invest in future growth.”

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The survey, which included both multiple choice and open-ended questions, received more than 450 responses. A recurring theme among respondents’ answers was the gap between promises of help from local government, and actual support.

“Local government is stifling growth, and the confidence to take on staff and expand just isn’t there,” claimed Mr Rose.

“Businesses are sick and tired of hearing how loans and expansion opportunities are available. They’re not. We need apprenticeship and training schemes that are easier to understand and involve less red tape, and we need better funding streams and lower business rates to encourage growth.

“The current state of affairs is, quite simply, appalling.”