South West England firms show encouraging business resilience, but are struggling to find staff

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Many an organisation drawing upon our own VAT advice in Plymouth or payroll expertise in Newton Abbot will be interested to read about the findings of a new survey for the first quarter of 2023.

The research in question revealed both good and bad news about the situation for firms in South West England. Although more than half of respondents reported either good or excellent business resilience, over three quarters of those polled said they had encountered difficulties in their efforts to find suitable staff.

A ‘mixed bag’ as businesses around the region continue to grapple with economic uncertainty

As reported by Business & Innovation Magazine, the survey sought out the views of more than 300 businesses from around the region. It was discovered through this process that respondents were generally more optimistic about their outlook during the quarter, than had been the case in the final three months of 2022.

A fifth (20%) of participants in the latest poll, for instance, reported confidence in the national economy, compared to the record low of 6% that had been recorded for the fourth quarter of last year. And when they were asked about their own prospects, 52% of the businesses said they were confident, a small rise from the 46% seen last time.

Inflation continues to be a hot topic for businesses in the South West of England through the current cost-of-living (and cost-of-doing-business) crisis. And although there are hopes of inflation dropping significantly over the next few months, it has continued to hover at around the 10% mark for now.

So, it shouldn’t be a great surprise that some 54% of respondents to the latest quarterly poll said they still intended to put up their prices over the next three months.

For a large majority of this group, labour costs were a key source of upward pressure. Recent times have seen businesses striving – and sometimes struggling – to attract new staff at the same time as retaining existing employees, forcing many to offer more competitive remuneration packages than they might have previously needed to do.

The Business & Innovation Magazine report added that net UK sales and orders were still in the red, as of the most recent survey. However, it said that the last quarter had seen “significant progress” being made towards breaking even. This was apparent in the survey finding that the proportion of firms reporting declining sales had gone down since the fourth quarter of 2022.

Could we help your South West England company better deal with its own challenges?

As 2023 goes on, there is little doubt that firms up and down the UK – and certainly in the South West – are still having to cope with a difficult economic and business environment. And although the broadly more optimistic outlook shown in the most recent quarterly survey findings is welcome, many firms are still very unsure about what the coming 12 months will bring, especially amid the Government’s rollback of energy bill support.

Would you like to introduce greater certainty to your own organisation’s efforts to survive and thrive over the year ahead – and beyond?

If so, whether you are specifically on the lookout for payroll services in Wellington, VAT advice in Plymouth, or Corporation Tax assistance in Newton Abbot, to cite just some of our areas of knowhow, our team at TS Partners can deliver to the highest standards. To find out more, simply contact our closest office to you today.