Suffolk: Chamber members hear of hope for ‘modest recovery’

LENDING conditions for businesses and households are tightening, a Bank of England official has acknowledged at a meeting with Suffolk Chamber of Commerce members.

But Phil Eckersley, the bank’s regional agent for the South East and East Anglia, added that household incomes were edging higher and the private sector was continuing to create new jobs.

Speaking to more than 100 Suffolk Chamber members at Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf and Spa, Mr Eckersley said: “There is no doubt that despite many businesses I meet working harder than ever there remains many challenges for the economy.

“The latest research shows that lending conditions facing households and companies has tightened further with the increased funding costs being experienced by banks.”

The UK economy remains in recession, following three consecutive quarters of negative growth, and the Bank of England’s latest Inflation Report said it appeared that output had been broadly flat over the last two years.

However, Mr Eickersley added: “I speak to many businesses who tell me that they feel much more positive than the research suggests

“It is important to recognise that there has been a gentle pick up in the growth of household incomes. We are also seeing job growth in the private sector increasing and with the newly announced Funding for Lending Scheme set up by Government and the Bank of England there is hope for a modest recovery.”

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Issues raised by chamber members at the meeting centred on the need for investment in key infrastructure, including the A14 and the Great Eastern main line.

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber, said: “It was good to welcome Phil back to Suffolk and hear directly from the Bank of England about the challenges our local and regional economy faces.

“It was also good to hear that Phil’s experience is very similar to both the chamber’s and our members’. While the figures show we are well and truly in a double dip recession, the everyday feeling of business is more positive.”

In a lighter moment at the end of the event, Phil Eckersley explained that the long period of low interest rates was not a first.

“When we look back at the setting of interest rates many people think we are going through an unheard of period. Interestingly for over 100 years in c1600 rates stayed at or around 0%. There is some time to go before we reach that.” he said.