Business organisations across the West welcomed today’s GDP figures showing that the UK economy grew by 0.7% in the last quarter – bringing the annual growth rate to 1.9%.
But there were warnings that much more needs to be done to ensure the recovery stays on track so that firms in the region can reap the rewards.
Phil Smith, managing director of Business West, which runs the Initiative in Swindon & Wiltshire, said: “These GDP figures reflect our latest positive Quarterly Economic Survey results showing confidence is high and firms across the region believe they can create jobs, invest and trade overseas. Businesses have major ambitions but if we are to succeed in rebalancing the economy, more support must be provided with finance and skilled people to enable them to go out and trade with the world if we are to succeed in rebalancing the economy.
“We encourage the government to deliver long-term growth strategies particularly around the infrastructure investments that we so badly need. Only then will we have an environment that fosters enterprise and an economy which meets its true potential.
“So while the overall message from the GDP figures is positive, there are risks that should prevent complacency creeping in. The eurozone’s basic problems have not yet been resolved, which could adversely impact our exporters and, as trading improves, cashflow and taxation remain major concerns.”
Jason Carter, UK Trade and Investment’s (UKTI) deputy regional director in the South West, added: “We welcome the increase in GDP in the South West and the valuable contribution local businesses are making to the steady growth of the economy. Our launch of Reshore UK last week, with the Manufacturing Advisory Service, will help give further impetus to growth by offering a one-stop-shop to help companies bring production back to the UK. More than 1,500 manufacturing jobs have come back to the country since 2011 and this is expected to increase as the economic outlook improves.
“The latest statistics show the value of exports from the South West increased 6.3% to £13.46 billion in the year to September 2013 and UKTI is continuing to work with local companies to add even greater value to the region’s economy through overseas sales.”