A survey carried out by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has showed that although export sales increased in the first quarter of 2018, the UK’s overall economic growth was ‘subdued’.
The survey was completed by over 7,100 businesses in the services sector and the manufacturing sector, and revealed that export sales and orders increased slightly in both.
Within the manufacturing sector, the number of firms who reported improved export sales rose to its highest level since the second quarter of 2014, the survey found. However, the proportion of businesses who reported an increase in domestic sales in the manufacturing sector was at its lowest level in the first quarter of this year since the last quarter of 2016.
Some factors which have been affecting slow domestic growth include skills shortages and reduced cashflow, the BCC said.
It also stated that ‘much more needs to be done to safeguard the future of the economy’. The business group has urged the government to reduce upfront costs for businesses, reform the Apprenticeship Levy and refine the UK’s physical and digital infrastructure.
Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC commented on the survey’s findings, saying: ‘What growth we see in the UK economy is due principally to strong global trading conditions, rather than domestic demand, which remains muted. Uncertainty, recruitment difficulties and price pressures remain persistent concerns for businesses of every shape and size, even if short-term confidence levels remain resilient.
‘A far stronger domestic economic agenda is needed to fix the fundamentals needed for business to thrive here at home.’