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Date: 28/04/2016

This week’s policy update looks at GDP growth, the Marches LEP Annual Report, the Worcestershire LEP Business Board and the last chance for delegates to book onto our Brexit Debate.

1. Slowing GDP growth requires a strong policy response
2. Marches LEP annual report launched
3. New members of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Business Board announced
4. Brexit Panel Debate sponsored by mfg Solicitors

1. Slowing GDP growth requires a strong policy response
The UK’s economic growth has slowed down in the first quarter of 2016, mainly hit by a drop in manufacturing and construction output, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

GDP Growth in Q1 2016 slowed to 0.4%, down from 0.6% in Q4 2015. Services growth also slowed to 0.6%, but manufacturing (-0.4%), total production (-0.4%) and construction (0.9%) all fell.

Services remain the main driver of UK economic growth, but firms are becoming more cautious before making long-term investment decisions. The government must remain focused on the task of boosting economic growth in order to address this.

The BCC is calling on the government for more infrastructure investment and support to our exporters, in order to create wealth and drive the economy forward.

David Kern, BCC Chief Economist, commented:
“The slowdown in GDP growth is unsurprising given that structural issues at home have now combined with global headwinds to become a major dampening factor, as highlighted by the slowdown in services from 0.8% – 0.6%. Our own Quarterly Economic Survey shows that the economy is softening, and this is further proof.”

2. Marches LEP Annual Report Launched
The Marches LEP launched their annual report and their annual conference on Wednesday 27 April at Ludlow Race Course. The report sets out what the LEP have achieved for the Marches (Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.

Some key figures from the report include:
  • The Marches contribute £12.3bn to the UK economy and is home to 29,800 businesses
  • There have been 12,300 businesses created since 2011 and the business survival rate is the 2nd highest out of the 39 LEPs
  • There has been an 8% growth in SMEs in the last five years
  • The Marches have also attracted 1,988 inward investment projects between 2014 and 2015
  • The Marches have the 8th highest start-up rate out of all the LEP areas

Read the report here.

3. New members of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Business Board announced
Last week Worcestershire LEP announced the recruitment of five new members for their business board.
The purpose of the LEP Business Board is for key business interests in Worcestershire to come together in one forum and contribute diverse business perspectives, knowledge and expertise to support flourishing enterprise.

Stuart Allen, Founder and Managing Director of #WorcestershireHour
Jennifer Appleton, Operations Director of ISO Quality Services Ltd
Robert Champion, Partner at Halls
James Pritchard, Managing Director of Heartbeat Manufacturing Limited
James Speller, Pre Construction Director at Speller Metcalfe

The new members will now join the other 16 private sector representatives on the Business Board who are from varying business sizes and sectors, as well as the main business representative organisations.

Mark Martin, Chair of the Worcestershire LEP Business Board, said:
“The Business Board has a two-way relationship with the WLEP Board and also works to address the big issues and solutions that would stimulate business growth and create jobs in the local economy. I look forward to welcoming our new members.”

4. Only a few spaces remaining: Brexit Debate sponsored by mfg Solicitors
Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce would like to invite you to join us at our Brexit Debate sponsored by mfg Solicitors on Thursday 12 May, 16.30 – 18.30 at mfg Solicitors, Kidderminster.

Join us to listen and ask questions to a leading panel of speakers, including Johnnie Arkwright, Chair of Britain for Business West Midlands and owner of Hatton Countryworld, Malcolm Harbour CBE representing Britain Stronger in Europe and Mark Garnier MP for the Wyre Forrest.

According to a recent snap poll Chamber membership is split over whether we should stay in or leave the EU. This is the opportunity to get your questions answered personally by politicians and both sides of the campaign. We hope to see you there.

Book your FREE place here.