Sheffield area companies and organisations that have fought hard to grow and create jobs despite difficult trading conditions were praised today by a business leader.
Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said their efforts had made a valuable contribution to the improvement in the economy and helped to create a much brighter picture.
“I know how many of our local businesses have not allowed the recession to drag them down and they are now seeing their rewards as the economy gains momentum.
“Increasingly our members are reporting positive news about the performances of their businesses and improved trading both here in the UK and internationally.”
Mr Wright’s comments came as the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) today raised its GDP growth forecast to 2.8 per cent in 2014 (from 2.7 per cent) and from 2.4 per cent to 2.5 per cent in 2015.
For 2016 (included in the forecast for the first time) the BCC are expecting growth of 2.5 per cent.
GDP, says the BCC, is likely to exceed its 2008 fourth quarter pre-recession peak in the second quarter of this year, one quarter earlier than it predicted in December 2013.
UK GDP quarterly growth is forecast at 0.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2014, easing slightly to 0.6 per cent in the second quarter, before averaging 0.6 per cent per quarter until the end of 2016.
John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said the BCC’s increasingly sunny predictions for growth were a testament to the drive and ambition of businesses across the UK.
“Our new forecast shows that the service sector is performing particularly well, and is likely to be a key driver of growth.
“And the manufacturing sector, although small, is pulling its weight too, and will play an important role in sustaining our recovery.
“It’s not time to break out the champagne glasses just yet. Major issues remain, such as the unacceptably high level of youth unemployment.
“We urge the Chancellor to use this month’s Budget wisely by incentivising businesses to hire young people so that the next generation of workers are not left behind.
“Crucially, Britain is simply not investing enough. While business investment is expected to grow, it will remain way below pre-crisis levels for some time.
“There is also more to do in securing access to finance for growing firms – as this too will be crucial to securing our economic future.
“So is getting public and private sector funding together to address the crippling gaps in our transport, digital and energy infrastructure.
“We just hope that as the General Election gets closer, politicians are not tempted to abandon a drive for long-term economic security in favour of short-term vote winners.
“No government over the next decade can afford to get distracted – and our leaders must do everything in their power to ensure the economy goes from being merely good, to being truly great.”
The BCC says that after reaching 2.4 per cent in 2013, growth in household consumption will continue at 2.4 per cent in 2014, and will edge up to 2.5 per cent in 2015 and 2016.
Service sector output is forecast to record growth of 2.9 per cent in 2014, 2.7 per cent in 2015, and 2.7 per cent in 2016.
Business investment is expected to record strong growth of 6.6 per cent in 2014, 5.7 per cent in 2015, and 5.7 per cent in 2016.
Even so, business investment in 2016 will still be slightly lower than in 2008.