British Chambers’ quarterly study reveals slowdown in growth across the region

Picture: David Jones/PA Wire

Picture: David Jones/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Businesses across the region are falling back into a more cautious approach to growth, according to a new report.

Caroline Williams, chief executive, at the Chamber of Trade's B2B networking event at Carrow Road.

Caroline Williams, chief executive, at the Chamber of Trade's B2B networking event at Carrow Road. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2011

Nationally, both manufacturing and service balances were weaker this quarter, with manufacturing seeing the steepest decline.

But in Norfolk both sectors saw falling balances, which paints a picture of prolonged, slow manufacturing growth, according to the British Chambers of Commerce Quarterly Economic Survey.

Norfolk Chamber chief executive Caroline Williams said business which completed the survey reported a limited increase in employment over the last three months, despite a reduction in Norfolk's official unemployment figures.

'Following recent trends, growth in both the service and the manufacturing sectors in Norfolk has slowed over the last quarter,' added Ms Williams.

'And both sectors continue to report difficulties in recruiting skilled staff. More telling is the falling employment expectations balances for both sectors in the coming three months.'

She said during the recession, many people opted for secure employment, but as the economy improves, people are seeking progression and improved wages.

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'This has created gaps in some companies due to a shrinking skills pool,' she added. 'Locally, the oil and gas industry sector advised that while contracts are not being cancelled, they are being delayed.

'The challenge facing businesses at the start of the supply chain is to find ways to sustain their businesses to ensure they are around to take advantage when the upturn comes.'

But she said investment was still being made in staff training, despite weakening order books.

Is your business bucking the trend? Call business writer Sabah Meddings on 01603 772879 or email