County’s businesses still in confident mood, Suffolk Chamber survey reveals

Sarah Howard, president of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.

Sarah Howard, president of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.

Businesses in Suffolk remain optimistic despite growing signs of a slow-down in growth across the UK as a whole, a new survey shows.

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce says its findings, part of the British Chambers of Commerce Quarterly Economic Survey, indicate local sentiment among firms in both the service and manufacturing sectors running ahead of the national trend.

Suffolk manufacturers showed optimism about order books for the coming quarter with a balance of plus 31 compared with a national figure of plus 10.

The balance on employment levels in the Suffolk manufacturing sector over the last quarter remained stable at plus 18 and prospects for the coming three months rose to plus 24 against a national average of plus 17%.

The proportion of Suffolk manufacturing firms operating at full capacity also saw a welcome improvement after three consecutive quarterly declines.

In the service sector, the balance for domestic business improved by two points in Suffolk to plus 37, the highest level for more than a year, while the national balance fell by 4 points.

Predictions for domestic service sector order books for the first quarter of 2016 are also positive in Suffolk, with the local balance improving by four points to its highest level for a year.

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The service sector saw Suffolk firms recruiting at a lower rate than the national average, but employment increased at a stronger level than the previous quarter. Service sector firms are also expecting employment levels to increase with the Suffolk balance rising by six points to plus 23%, above the national average of plus 21%.

“These latest figures demonstrate encouraging growth for Suffolk but there are clear warning signs of continuing challenges ahead for UK plc,” said Sarah Howard, president of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce. “The decline at a national level should send a message to Government that UK firms are in need of a more favorable business environment.”