Survey shows ‘mixed picture’ of performance among Sheffield City Region businesses

Nigel Brewster
Nigel Brewster

Businesses in the Sheffield City Region have produced a ‘mixed picture of economic performance’ so far this year, according to a new survey.

The Sheffield City Region Quarterly Economic Survey – regarded as the area’s most authoritative private sector business survey based on hundreds of responses from local firms – showed mixed results in the region for both the service sector and manufacturing for this year’s Quarter 1.

Over the last three months, service businesses in the city region, which includes Doncaster, reported a rise in sales, cash flow and remained positive about investment and orders during the next quarter.

But regional manufacturing figures fell across the board, which economists blamed on ongoing price pressures for raw materials, concern for exchange rates, a slump in oil prices, sanctions against Russia and a slowdown in China. Manufacturing comprises 20 per cent of the city region’s economy - compared to 10 per cent nationally.

However, the overall outlook for exporting firms in both sectors was positive and on balance, many saw an increase in export markets in the last quarter and forecasted it to remain static or continue to grow.

During the next 12 months, regional business confidence in the UK economy was more positive with firms in both the manufacturing and service sectors saying they planned to increase investment and expected their turnover to increase.

Nigel Brewster, a Doncaster business owner and vice-chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It is important to be aware of business confidence across the region. The results from each quarterly survey will be used by the Sheffield City Region and the region’s four chambers of commerce to influence local, regional and national governments and decision makers as well as to help shape the support structures available to the local business community.

“There needs to be further action to support business confidence, infrastructure, and inward investment over the months ahead with correct policies being adopted at Westminster.”

The survey also showed that businesses, particularly manufacturers, are postponing decisions due to the uncertainty ahead of the referendum vote on June 23.

Further, the majority of businesses surveyed indicated they were in favour of remaining in a reformed European Union, with specific powers transferred back to Westminster.

The survey for Quarter 2 will open on May 23.

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