BCC voices concerns that Brexit is ‘hindering the UK economy’

The UK economy is suffering because of uncertainty over Brexit, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned.

In recent days, the BCC conducted a survey which found that firms in the services sector, which currently represents 76 per cent of the UK GDP, had largely “given up” on hiring staff.

Additionally, the UK manufacturing industry has seen exports slow down, the BCC said.

BCC Director General Adam Marshall, said: “We are stuck in limbo while Brexit negotiations rumble on.”

The BCC found that the percentage of services companies attempting to recruit new staff had fallen to its lowest in 25 years.

Of those firms that had tried to recruit new staff, 72 per cent reported difficulties.

Dr Marshall said: “Many firms are deeply invested in developing home-grown skills and talent within their own communities, however, this alone is not enough to fill the skills gaps at all levels that businesses face right now and which are set to get worse post-March 2019.”

The balance of services and manufacturing firms that looked to invest in either plant and machinery or training in recent months fell to the lowest level in more than a year.

Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the BCC, said: “These results suggest that the current period of below average GDP growth continued into the third quarter of 2018.”

He said that while activity in the services sector had ‘slackened’ between July and September, it is likely to be the driver of growth in the third quarter.

Dr Marshall said: “The uncertainty over Brexit and the lack of bold moves to boost business at home are starting to bite.”

The BCC is calling on the Government to use the upcoming Budget on Monday 29 October to bolster business investment and productivity “in the face of significant Brexit headwinds”.

A Government spokesperson said: “Our economy has grown every year since 2010, unemployment is at a 40-year low, and the UK is one of the best places in the world to do business.

“But we are not complacent, and through the modern Industrial Strategy we are investing in skills, research and infrastructure as we build an economy fit for the future.”