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Business news

Business news - June 2024

This month we have updates on the following topics:

  • General economic outlook
  • Manufacturing Highlight
  • Surprise General Election
  • Challenges faced by businesses.
  • Skills in demand in our region
  • Labour markets

General outlook:

  • Inflation continued to fall in May, though not by as much as was forecast. Inflation fell to 2.6%, though it was anticipated that it would fall to 2.4%. This remains elevated from the Bank of England’s 2% target and with stronger than expected economic growth The Bank of England is widely expected to hold interest rates at the current elevated level of 5.25% until inflation falls lower
  • With GDP for March becoming available, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the economy grew by 0.4%, marking the official end of the recession, with the economy growing 0.6% between January and March
  • According to the BBC the growth in the economy at the start of this year was led by the strong performance of the services sector, likely to be helped by an early Easter in March as opposed to April last year. There was also a strong performance by car manufacturers, though construction remained “weak” according to the Office for National Statistics
  • Representing the construction industry, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) said that while the economy was starting to see signs of growth, ultimately the consensus remained that it would not begin to pick up pace until 2025.

Manufacturing highlight:

  • MAKE UK, the manufacturing industries Trade Organisation covered the state of manufacturing in the UK in their Manufacturing Outlook for Q1 2024
  • According to MAKE UK, Britain’s manufacturers are facing the prospect of two years of low growth, with forecasts suggesting the rate for the sector will remain flat this year at 0.1%, before increasing by 0.8% in 2025 - just half the forecasted GDP rate for the economy overall
  • Fhaheen Khan, Senior Economist from MAKE UK argued "While manufacturers’ own confidence remains robust, the overall prospects for the sector are weak for the foreseeable future. While there are clearly external factors at play, the UK economy has a fundamental growth problem which a business as usual policy process simply will not address. The next Government of whatever colour must address this fundamental problem as a matter of national urgency, beginning with a long-term industrial strategy which will really shift the dial on the UK’s economic performance."

Surprise General Election:

  • In a surprise announcement on 22 May, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the next General Election will take place on 4 July 2024
  • In the run up to this all parties will make the case to the public, including laying out their plan for the economy going forwards.

Main challenges faced by businesses:

  1. Economic uncertainty
  2. Cost of materials
  3. Competition with other businesses
  4. Insufficient domestic demand

Skills most in demand in our region in May 2024 were:

  1. Warehousing
  2. Nursing
  3. Auditing
  4. Invoicing
  5. Personal Care

Labour markets:

Ashfield's April 2024 figures show that we have 4% or 3130 people of working age seeking work. This is higher than in January 2024, which had 3120 people searching for work. While this figure is much higher than the East Midlands average of 3.5% it is only slightly higher than the national average of 3.8%.

Last updated: 3 June 2024