We still have a mountain to climb

Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

So now its official: Britain’s GDP didn’t shrink as much in the second quarter as the statisticians previously thought. What was a fall of 0.7% is now a fall of 0.5%, and I am now taking bets on whether the third revision – due next month – pushes that number still higher. In a country where employment remains buoyant, and where private sector surveys including the chamber network’s own Quarterly Economic Survey  suggest that businesses still have relatively strong order books and sales, it’s hard to reconcile the dire growth figures with what we see happening in the ‘real economy’. It’s also hard to over-estimate the impact of these releases on business confidence and investment intentions.

Yet even if the statistics are wrong, Britain is stagnant. We still have a mountain to climb to get back to healthy growth levels. As a still-dozy Westminster starts to stir after the summer holidays, and as the political party conference season approaches, the Chamber Network is preparing bold new proposals on how to support business growth. Over the coming weeks, we will set out ideas on ways to stimulate short-term activity and to support long-term growth, all while maintaining Britain’s hard-won market credibility and a clear deficit reduction plan.

What’s more, we will be supporting the British Chamber of Commerce who are intensifying their call for the creation of a British Business Bank, to lend to new and high-growth SMEs that can’t get funding from commercial sources. We’ll also be involved in the launching the results of BCC’s recent surveys on business-to-business payment, supply chains and energy, which Norfolk Chamber members have taken part in plus an update on the Government’s progress against the transport priorities identified by Chambers across the UK,  including Norfolk , at the time of the government’s election in 2010.

It is more important than ever that the Norfolk business voice is heard loud and clear so please do keep your comments coming! Our Chamber network BCC Quarterly Economic Survey, which takes 3 minutes to complete, has been recently emailed out to every Chamber member so please do complete it by 10th September, as it is used by the Bank of England and the Chancellor to make decisions about the economy.  

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