Warning signs of trouble ahead for economy

Preston city centre
Preston city centre
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Lancashire could face economic troubles ahead despite continuing growth, business chiefs have warned.

The results of the latest Quarterly Economic Survey from the Lancashire Chambers of Commerce have revealed that the local economy is still growing – but at a much slower rate than a year ago.

The new survey, compiled by the county’s three Chambers in association with Moore and Smalley Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors, shows that most key manufacturing and services balances were weaker in the fourth quarter of 2015.

But manufacturing firms fared far worse.

This has led to the county’s two-tier growth trend to become further entrenched.

Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber, said: “While these latest figures demonstrate growth, it is clear that there are warning signs of potential trouble ahead.

“The declines across the board should send a message to government that UK firms are in desperate need of a favourable business environment, not more administrative burdens.”

Most key balances for the services sector dipped slightly again on the previous quarter, with domestic sales continuing to be the main contributor to overall growth.

The sector, however, continues to remain resilient in the face of global headwinds.

However the manufacturing sector continues to struggle.

Domestic and export sales and order balances have now fallen to a four-year low, suggesting that the sector is close to stagnation.

The results were revealed to an audience of businesses at Preston’s College this morning by Stephen Gregson, Corporate Finance Director at Moore and Smalley.

He said: “The latest survey results do suggest that it is becoming a little harder to argue that the NW economic glass is half full.

“With a slowdown in the Chinese economy, the US Fed raising interest rates, mixed with what is starting to feel like consumer debt and possibly also housing bubbles inflating in the UK, things are looking a bit less optimistic than a year ago.”

He said the survey was as usual probably best at highlighting questions to consider as opposed to providing black and white answers.