BUSINESS leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire say the final economic figures of 2023 show the challenges ahead for firms next year.
In the three months to October, GDP – the measure of economic output – flatlined at 0.0 per cent, while it dropped by 0.3 per cent in the month.
Corin Crane, the chief executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The UK economy has remained flat and has barely grown when you measure it against pre-pandemic levels.
“When I speak to businesses across the region it is clear that there are several barriers to growth. In the past couple of years it was high inflation, now high interest rates is having an impact. It feels like 2024 is going to be a challenge.
“On top of that, it’s still incredibly difficult for companies to get the skills they need which is something we’ll be addressing in this region through the Local Skills Improvement Fund.
“That said, there are many businesses in this region that are looking ahead with optimism and it is vitally important that we foster that sentiment and that companies come to the Chamber for any support they need.”
David Bharier, head of research at the British Chambers of Commerce, added: “The data from the ONS showing 0.0 per cent GDP growth for the three months to October, as well as a 0.3 per cent fall in the month, confirms the low-to-no growth cycle the UK economy is in.
“As we end the year, the outlook remains challenging. Our quarterly economic forecast, published last week, expects growth below 1.0 per cent each year for the next three years.
“The UK economy remains one of the most advanced in the world, but it’s difficult to see where further growth will come from, as inflation, interest rates, policy churn, and trade barriers with the European Union prevent many firms from making long-term investment plans.
“The Autumn Statement contained some solid announcements for businesses around full expensing, the planning system, and the grid, but this needs to be underpinned by a long-term plan for investment.”