The Quarterly Economic Survey, run by the British Chambers, is the country’s biggest and longest running private sector survey which acts as an economic indicator, often highlighting big changes in the economy long before other surveys or other official statistics. It is used by the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee and other key stakeholders who use it as a key benchmark when setting fiscal policy.
Prior to lockdown 3 being announced, Doncaster’s economy had being showing weak signs of recovery across a variety of key economic indicators following the sharp decline in Q2 following the initial COVID-19 lockdown. While many indices have not returned to levels seen this time last year, government interventions and business resilience grew as we headed into the final quarter of 2020. Recent developments will, of course, have thrown this nascent recovery into jeopardy.
The survey was conducted between the 2nd and 23rd November received responses from across a variety of businesses and sectors collectively employing over 3,800 individuals in the Doncaster region.
According to the data:
- Domestic sales and orders show a positive growth this quarter with both sales and advanced orders up by 24% balance points.
- Employment expectations remain relatively low increasing by just 2.5% balance points this quarter. Those experience difficulties in recruitment also sharply rose by 92% balance points this quarter following the mass redundancies in the previous quarter – this could be due to the sheer volume of applicants businesses are receiving.
- Firms have shown positive intentions to increase investment in both plant and machinery and training this quarter increasing 25% balance points and 13% balance points respectively.
- Brexit related concerns (23%), increased competition (22%) and corporate taxation (15%) remain the top three factors of more concern when compared to the previous quarter.
Commenting on the latest QES results Doncaster Chamber Chief Executive Officer Dan Fell said:
“These results show that even though business conditions improved during the final quarter of 2020, things are still very tough. Despite some improvements over the final months of the year, figures remain lower than pre-pandemic years and show the scale of the task ahead as re reopen and rebuild the local economy.
“The fieldwork for this survey was conducted prior to the new national lockdown being announced and tentative feelings of optimism – based on these results – have since been significantly dampened by recent events.
“COVID-19 and Brexit have kept cashflow, sales and orders far below where we would want them, despite some improvements over the latter half of 2020. As we enter the third lockdown, these results are a stark reminder of how much work is needed to get the economy back on its feet. They also demonstrate why government support for business needs to extend way beyond March and throughout the calendar year given the underlying fragility of the economy that these figures bely.”
A complete briefing of results from the latest Quarterly Economic survey and a panel discussion on recruitment and employment opportunities for young people will take place during at the Doncaster Business Insight Breakfast Briefing on 19 January. Book through the Chamber website at https://business.doncaster-chamber.co.uk/events/details/doncaster-business-insight-breakfast-briefing-01-19-2021-2650?calendarMonth=2021-01-01