British Chambers of Commerce

Weakening in jobs growth ahead

Worried worker
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Today's employment figures are pleasing, but the future may not be so, warned Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce.

“The strong increase in employment, coupled with another fall in the number of people out of work, suggests that the UK labour market remains in good order," he said.

“However, behind the strong headline figures a number of key challenges remain. Businesses are increasingly reporting that persistent hiring difficulties, cost pressures and ongoing uncertainty are dampening recruitment intentions.

"If this trend is sustained it could well translate into a weakening in UK jobs growth over the next year."

Frustration understood

The BBC's Business Editor is tweeting from the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference where the head of the business group, Adam Marshall, has said MPs need to stop "chasing rainbows" when it comes to resolving the Brexit impasse.

David Lidington, often described as Theresa May's de-facto deputy, is speaking to delegates and saying that the alternative to the Prime Minister's deal is more uncertainty and division.

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'Westminster has failed us'

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

UK and EU flags at the House of Commons
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Today, businesses from around the UK are in London for the annual meeting of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

Adam Marshall, the BCC's director general, has spoken to the Today programme about what businesses make of the latest Brexit turmoil.

"The sense of anger and frustration that's out there in business communities around the UK is palpable," he told Today.

"Businesses really feel let down, they feel like we've gone round in circles for the past three years, and they do need a concrete result from this process, because, of course, many have put off investment, they've put off planning for the future, and some of them are facing real world impact right now that they're having to deal with because of the uncertainty."

He said that individual politicians have listened and worked on answering the questions businesses need answered, "but it's the collective that's failed businesses".

"It is Westminster as a whole that has failed us, and we are very worried at the moment that ideologies, rather than pragmatism and the economy, are at the heart of their thinking. That's got to change."

Rates on hold this year says BCC

Here's the British Chambers of Commerce on the inflation data.

“Inflation is likely to drift higher in the coming months as the expected increase in Ofgem’s energy price cap in April enters the calculation. Businesses also continue to report that the cost of imported raw materials are rising. As these high input costs filter through supply chains, they could increase the upward pressure on consumer prices in the short-term," said the BCC's head of economics Suren Thiru.

Even so, he said there was "sufficient scope" for the Bank of England to keep interest rates on hold this year, as inflation will remain close to the 2% target and because of "a backdrop of increasing anxiety over Brexit and slowing economic growth".