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The Business Environment Remains Difficult

There was no blog from me last month as August is my family time when we go down to the Mediterranean and do little but enjoy the sunshine. However it was very noticeable this year, whilst driving down through France and into Spain, that we saw far fewer British number plates amongst the cars and motorhomes wending their way South. Perhaps it is true that there was a trend in the UK for a 'staycation'. Certainly it felt like that to us and, no wonder, given that spending a Euro this year seemed to be the same as spending a Pound Sterling!

Martin WarrenReturning home it seems that our economy remains very much in limbo with no feeling of progress towards Brexit and little unanimity amongst our politicians as to the best course to set. Whilst growth appears to continue and our employment statistics remain good other indicators are showing signs of moving, with inflation creeping up and demands for wage growth surfacing. I attended a briefing from a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee recently which suggested that the mood is changing with more members now voting, or likely to vote, for an increase in base rates. The implication was that the current historically low level is not sustainable and that edging towards a more sustainable level would be prudent particularly given that any change has a long gestation period before affecting the economy.

This month sees the publishing of the ICAEW Business Confidence Monitor which shows a fall in confidence and a recognition in local businesses of the changing factors discussed above. All these indicators seem to suggest a shift is coming and we need to be ready to respond and as I emphasised in July it really is important that we, ICAEW and you the members, are active in our local business networks and our voice is heard to help and support our local economies.

Martin J Warren FCA

Director for Wales & The South West