Pictured: Dave Ayton-Hill, Barrie Kilfeather, Louise Bennett, Sean Farnell, Ajay Desai

Coventry & Warwickshire economy on the up

Coventry and Warwickshire’s economy is on course to out-perform the rest of the UK over the course of the next year, a meeting has been told.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce held a Business Outlook event with Warwickshire County Council (WCC) to assess how the region is set to fair over the course of the next 12 months.

The Chamber, alongside WCC, presented analysis on the latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) at Mallory Court and the meeting also heard from Sean Farnell, of Burgis & Bullock and board member of the Local Enterprise Partnership, and Barrie Kilfeather, of Santander.

Dave Ayton-Hill, Economy & Skills Manager at WCC, said the data from the Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey suggested strong economic growth over the next year.

He said: “Figures on UK economic growth are retrospective so we are always looking behind us to know how the economy is performing. The national Purchasing Managing Index looks ahead and when you chart the two together, the PMI has proved to be a very good indicator of what actually follows with GDP.

“We have moved the QES analysis to a similar model that is used by PMI and the figures are very positive for the region – in terms of business confidence, Coventry and Warwickshire is in a strong position.

“Now, of course, there are a lot of factors that can affect whether that confidence is translated into economic performance but we can say with a good degree of certainty that the local economy will continue to grow strongly.”

One of barriers to that growth, however, is a short supply of skilled labour in the region as unemployment in the region is low.

Dave said that 87 per cent of manufacturers which had tried to recruit in recent months had experienced difficulties in bringing in people with the right skills. In the service sector, the issue was less stark but was still a cause for concern.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a very robust survey – especially as we had such a strong response from businesses in the region.

“Our first Quarterly Economic Survey of the year was very healthy and we are doing extremely well when you compare us to the rest of the UK – and the wider West Midlands – which bodes well for the next year and beyond.”

Sean said that he had analysed the figures across the different areas of Coventry and Warwickshire and they showed that, by and large, the economic growth was strong across the board.

He said: “It’s positive news across the region – from the very north of North Warwickshire and down past Stratford in the south.

“There are some quirks in certain areas. In the north, for example, there is a feeling that the strong sentiment among companies is down to the fact that they were less confident in 2016 and, therefore, they are coming from a lower base. That said, it’s still good news that they feel confident about the remainder of 2017.

“There is also some difference between the confidence of ‘Remainers’ and ‘Brexiteers’. Those who wanted Brexit are very buoyant while those who wanted to remain in Europe are still confident, but there is a caveat to that based on what might happen in the negotiations.”

The full results can be downloaded here: https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/media/2883/qes-q1-2017-cw-results-final-doc-3.pdf

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