Sluggish’ GDP growth a concern – Chamber

Man standing by Birmingham Library Leaning Arms folded

Infrastructure development and the upskilling of workers must become a top priority for the Government after the UK suffered another sluggish period of GDP growth, business leaders said today.

According to figures released today, UK gross domestic product increased by 0.2 per cent in quarter two (March to May) – a slight increase of 0.1 per cent on the first quarter.

The Office for National Statistics said performance picked up slightly in May following a slowdown in the three months to April, caused by disappointing output levels in construction.

The production and construction sectors both made negative contributions to GDP, while 0.4 per cent growth in the services industries signalled the biggest upward contribution.

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce chief executive Paul Faulkner said: “It seems to have become the new norm to accept modest economic growth as a given in the current political climate.

“Whilst the service sector received a welcome boost from a bout of sunny weather and the royal wedding, we can’t ignore the continued disappointing levels of output we are witnessing in the construction and manufacturing industries.

“The likelihood of a summer rate rise remains unclear, particularly if the feel good factor from the World Cup translates into higher spending which could tip the balance amongst the MPC – especially if this outweighs Brexit related trading concerns.

“Nevertheless, relying on the success of the England football team to maintain demand remains a risky proposition and surely today’s results once again demonstrate the need for policy makers to deliver an effective plan which puts infrastructure development and upskilling the workforce as the number one priority for the country.

“Locally, the data from our latest Quarterly Business Report revealed similar trends with service sector demand remaining strong and we saw a recovery for manufacturers in the region from the worryingly low output we saw at the start of the year.

“I would urge local businesses to come along to our upcoming launch event in which we will discuss these results and the wider economic trends which are affecting businesses in the region.”

The Quarterly Business Report launch event will take place at Birmingham City University’s Curzon Building on 18 July.

For more information on the event click here.

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