Cumbria's Chamber of Commerce boss looking forward to year of stronger growth

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Rob Johnston
Rob Johnston

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce has said the UK’s economy will show better-than-expected performance this year, following the publication of a new report.

The British Chambers of Commerce’s (BCC) latest quarterly survey showed the economy is set to slow as Brexit uncertainty sets in while the weak pound will fuel inflation but boost exports, according to a new report.

It has upgraded its growth forecast for 2017 from 1.1 to 1.4 per cent but downgraded expectations for 2018 from 1.4 to 1.3 per cent, rising to 1.5 per cent the year after.

Inflation is forecast to breach the Bank of England’s 2 per cent target this quarter and peak at 2.7 per cent next year, outstripping growth in wages, slowing spending.

Business investment is set to fall by 0.5 per cent this year, followed by modest increases of 0.2 per cent in 2018 and 1.0 per cent in 2019.

Export growth forecast has been raised from 2.3 to 2.7 per cent this year and from 2.9 to 3.1 per cent in 2018, falling back to be 2.8 per cent in 2019.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “The UK economy is likely to grow somewhat more strongly than we’d expected during 2017.

“That said, the economy is still set to enter a more subdued period, with growth materially below trend over the near term. But the UK’s trade position will improve supported by the depreciation of sterling and an improving global outlook.”

 Adam Marshall

Adam Marshall

Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC, said: “Thanks to the hard work of businesses and the continued resilience of the redoubtable British consumer, the UK economy is likely to grow somewhat more strongly than we’d previously expected during 2017.

“Yet with several years of unspectacular growth ahead, coupled with inflationary pressures and the uncertain outcome of Brexit negotiations, it has never been more important to tackle the long-standing constraints that limit business confidence and growth here at home.

“Last week’s Budget was a missed opportunity for the government to double down on infrastructure improvements and support for international trade, and to lower the heavy up-front taxes and costs that undermine business investment. More thoughtful and radical moves to improve the business environment would give businesses – and GDP forecasts - a boost during a critical and complex time.”

Suren Thiru, the BCC’s head of economics, said: “We have upgraded our growth forecast for 2017, driven by revisions to official GDP data and a stronger than expected end to 2016.”

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