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[ 20-01-2011 ]

Scottish Chambers of Commerce have today (Thursday) released their Business Survey results for the fourth quarter of 2010.  The survey, conducted in conjunction with the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, shows the Scottish economy was slowing in the fourth quarter, before the onset of the harsh winter weather, and suggests that 2011 will deliver fresh challenges for the recovery in Scotland. 

Garry Clark, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: 

“Our survey shows that the slowdown of the economic recovery we noted in the third quarter of 2010 continued to the end of the year.  Whilst the severe December weather clearly had an impact on activity, there are a number of more important issues affecting Scottish business that require to be addressed in 2011 if the recovery is to continue and strengthen.

“On the positive side, the Scottish manufacturing sector continues to perform strongly, with exports holding up particularly well.  This reinforces the importance of the sector in leading an export led recovery and highlights the need to continue efforts to boost international trade links for Scottish business.  However other sectors continue to experience challenging trading conditions and there remains no sign of any general economic upturn in the near future. 

“Business confidence remains weak across the board and it is clear that the cuts in public spending are having an increasing impact on trade and future expectations.  There is evidence that those businesses which work with the public sector are more pessimistic than those which predominantly trade with the private sector. 

“2011 will be a year in which both businesses and consumers will have to manage rising inflation as a result of the VAT increase and higher energy, transport and raw material costs.  Against this background, businesses and consumers are looking for the UK and Scottish Governments to do more than simply implement cuts – we need evidence of policies designed to help industry and businesses to grow.  For businesses and consumers throughout Scotland, action to tackle the high levels of tax on fuel is long overdue and a solution must be found to the inordinate effect this has on the Scottish economy.  A fuel duty regulator would be a fair solution. 

“This is a time for burdens on business to be reduced rather than increased, if the private sector is expected to create new jobs, then legislation that damages the ability to compete and grow must be avoided.  Plans to add to the raft of employment legislation and subject large retail employers to supplementary business rates will only hinder the recovery, not aid it.” 

Click here to view the quarter 4 results.