Firms ready to take on new staff

Change: Stephen Gregson
Change: Stephen Gregson
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More than a third of businesses in Lancashire intend to increase staff numbers in the next three months, a new study has shown.

The data taken from the Quarterly Economic Survey, published today by the county’s Chambers of Commerce, shows 34 per cent of the 281 firms polled intend to increase their workforce, a rise of 13 per cent on the previous quarter.

It also showed 35 per cent of manufacturers in the county increased their workforce in the final quarter of 2012.

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber, said the county was making “steady progress” and called for changes to improve the conditions for growth.

She said: “The government must build on measures announced in the Autumn Statement and deliver a strategy that combines deficit reduction with a realistic long-term growth plan, including immediate measures to support business confidence.

“Recent steps to improve access to finance, such as the commitment to create a business bank, must be implemented at scale and with clear timetables.”

The chief executive added “more forceful measures” were needed to improve Britain’s infrastructure and called for the planning system to be freed up to “defeat the culture of NIMBYism that prevents many business projects getting off the ground.”

Stephen Gregson, corporate finance director at accountants Moore and Smalley which compiles the data with the Chamber, said he noted changing sentiment among both manufacturers and service companies.

He said: “I think a case can be made that this survey provides further evidence that the regional economy is generally stable, with a greater possibility for future upside.

“However, it remains unclear just when such upside may manifest itself strongly.”