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Date: 10/11/2014

Monday marks the start of the fieldwork period for Q4 of the Chamber of Commerce Quarterly Economic Survey (QES), the biggest economic survey of its kind in the country.

Q3 saw over 6,000 responses across the country, and 347 in Herefordshire & Worcestershire, a record for the Chamber. The survey serves as an important economic indicator for both the local area, and as a national lobbying tool, that is well respected and monitored closely by organisations such as the Treasury, the Bank of England, the Office for Budget Responsibility,  the EU Commission and the IMF.

The last twenty five years of QES results are now chronicled on a dedicated website which can be found here. In addition, a local report is drawn up by the Chamber every quarter, documenting all of the results that are procured from the survey.

The survey serves as a reflection of economic conditions across the entirety of the two counties, not just from within Chamber membership, with questions ranging from domestic and export balances to business confidence and training intentions.

Key Findings from Q3

·         The domestic sales balance is 44%, 3% higher than Q2.
·         Increased sales were reported by 54% of businesses, a 4% rise on the last quarter. Whilst 36% reported figures have remained constant.
·         National export balances fell in both sectors, with the manufacturing export balance now lower than 2007 pre-recession levels.
·         Confidence levels are higher than their average pre-recession levels in both sectors.
·         Confidence in turnover improvement in manufacturing stands at 60%, with a 54% confidence in improved profitability.
·         57% of businesses have experienced recruitment difficulties, however recruitment of permanent staff stands at 54%, which is above the national average.
·         Confidence in turnover stands at 82% across both sectors, a rise of 5%.
·         The main factors of concern for businesses are competition (46%), business rates (25%), exchange rates (22%) and corporation tax (21%).

Commenting on the results, Jack Stephens, Policy & PR Executive, said: "The QES for Q3 2014 shows that economic growth is continuing, but at a slower pace than Q1 & Q2. Within manufacturing the domestic and export balances are lower than Q2, both nationally and locally. The services sector are showing continued strength although there has been a decline in the export balance. However, local results show that our economy is growing steadily. In terms of domestic and export sales, we are above the national average. Couple with higher than national average results in recruiting full-time staff and investment in training, it shows that the local economy continues on its path to recovery."

To make the QES a more inclusive and interactive process, from Q1 2015 dedicated QES Breakfast events will be held after each fieldwork period, allowing for a breakdown of results to be shared, along with economic discussions to be had with a variety of guest speakers.

Mike Ashton, Chief Executive of the Chamber, believes that the QES is a highly important part of the local and national business policy process, he commented: "The QES is engrained into the fabric of business policy decision making on a national and a local level. Key decision makers take the QES into account when creating business and economic policy due to its superior response rate over any other business survey. It is a fantastic way for the local business community to form a united lobbying voice that carries real clarity in Westminster. The more people who engage in the process, the stronger, more accountable the results are.

"We are incredibly thankful to all of those people who continue to take part in the survey and ensure that the Herefordshire & Worcestershire business voice stays strong."

To complete the Q4 survey click here. It will take no longer than five minutes to complete.

For more information contact the Policy Department on 01905 673600 / 01432 803236 option 5.