HAMPSHIRE Chamber of Commerce is urging the government to bring forward the publication of its fiscal plans after a members’ survey underlined fears over inflation and declining business confidence.
Three out of four respondents (75%) to the Chamber’s latest quarterly research into business sentiment cite rising inflation as a major concern, while nearly seven out of 10 (68%) highlight energy bills.
More than half (54%) are anxious about fuel prices with around a third (32%) fearing the impact of interest rate rises.
Nearly half (47%) say they are coming under pressure to increase prices for customers because of the mounting costs of raw materials.
One third (32%) point to declining cashflow in the past three months with the same proportion shelving plans to invest in plant, machinery or equipment.
Just under four out of ten (37%) say their confidence in achieving profitability in the coming months has weakened.
And due to various factors, including difficulties in recruiting skilled staff, six out of 10 firms (59%) are currently operating below capacity.
Businesses in sectors including manufacturing, retail, hospitality, professional services and the creative industries all responded to the survey which broadly reflects the latest analysis of national sentiment by British Chambers of Commerce.
Data capture for both the Hampshire and national surveys was conducted before the announcement of the energy price cap for businesses, the Chancellor’s mini-budget and the current volatility in financial markets.
Ross McNally, Hampshire Chamber’s Chief Executive and Executive Chairman, said: “The message could not be louder or clearer: businesses in all sectors here in Hampshire and across the country are struggling with inflationary pressures, rising bills and huge economic uncertainty.
“Our members are amazingly resilient, hard-working and creative, but at this critical period of 40-year-high inflation, soaring energy prices and rising interest rates, they need help.
“While we welcomed the energy support package for business and some aspects of the mini-budget, such as the scrapping of the planned rise in National Insurance, far more needs to be done.
“We urge the government to set out its long-term economic strategy, including detailed fiscal policies and supply side reforms, as soon as possible.
“That is the only way we can achieve the level of certainty that will give our members and businesses across the country the essential confidence they need to stabilise, plan, invest and grow once again.”
The announcement of the government’s medium-term fiscal plan is currently scheduled for Wednesday, November 23.
PICTURED: Hampshire Chamber Chief Executive and Executive Chairman Ross McNally is calling for immediate action to ease inflation fears across the county