Survey shows optimism for 2014 growth

Key indicators for the health of the UK's manufacturing and services sectors reached all-time highs in the final quarter of last year, according to a survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The BCC's Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) of nearly 8,000 businesses uses a set of indicators, known as balances, to assess the health of UK industry.

Key findings from the QES for Q4 2013 include:

  • The UK manufacturing domestic orders balance reached +35 per cent
  • The employment balance for manufacturing was +33 per cent while employment expectations were at +31 per cent
  • In the services sector, the balances for export sales and export orders were +36 per cent and +33 per cent respectively
  • The services sector employment balance reached a record high of +29 per cent
  • All major Q4 2013 balances were higher than pre-recession levels in 2007.

John Longworth, director-general of the BCC, welcomed the findings but stressed that access to business finance must be improved for growth ambitions to be realised. He said:

"It is a fantastic to start the New Year with a very positive quarterly survey. Confidence is high and our members are resolute in their determination to take the recovery from being good to being truly great. Firms across the board believe they can create jobs, invest, and export.

"It is especially pleasing that the spurt in the manufacturing has proven not to be a fluke, which demonstrates the dynamism of our small, high value, manufacturing sector. But businesses have major ambitions, and to be able to meet them, more support must be provided."