POLITICIANS were today urged to put business at the top of the election agenda after fears about the strength of the recovery.
The call came from the Lockwood-based Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce after mixed signals from its latest quarterly survey.
The survey of chamber members in Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield reported a “worrying” fall in domestic orders and sales – but painted a brighter picture for export sales and orders as well as a “significant” increase in employment.
It said companies had upgraded their forecasts for turnover and profits in light of improved cashflow and investment.
But it added: “While some of these results give rise to cautious optimism, they are nevertheless a disappointment and serve to emphasise the fragility of our recovery out of recession.”
Steven Leigh, chamber head of policy and representation, said: “Disappointing home sales and orders are a real setback, but there is some comfort arising from our exporting manufacturers who have demonstrated their resilience during these very difficult times.
“Favourable exchange rates make for export opportunities which need to be exploited if there is to be export-led growth of the economy.
“It is to be hoped that the next Government will embrace these opportunities by ensuring more support for exporters – particularly where export credit guarantees and trade finance are concerned – so that we can take advantage of new global markets ahead of international competition.”
Mr Leigh said it was “pleasing” to note the cautious optimism about future prospects for sales and profits as well as better figures for employment.
But he added: “Raw material and other overhead costs remain a big worry to our members – and serious concerns are now also being expressed about inflation and corporate taxation.
“Overall, this set of figures confirms earlier indications that the recovery is likely to be slow and far from smooth.”
Mr Leigh said: “With a general election due next month, we urge the incoming Government to prioritise business at the heart of the economic recovery and to ensure that this priority is supported by policies which will stimulate enterprise while giving businesses every possible encouragement to spearhead our economic recovery.
“The chamber will continue to vigorously lobby the new Government – of whatever political persuasion – to embrace a genuinely business-friendly agenda which will encourage investment and create employment.”