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Welcome to the latest news and updates from the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, your hub for business insights, events, and developments in the Cumbria region.

Results of BCC Business Outlook Survey 2023 published with record input from Cumbrian businesses

Cumbria Chamber has seen a record number of businesses contributing to the British Chamber of Commerce’s first survey of the year, the Business Outlook Survey 2023.

The survey, which ran from 18th January to 6th February, asked questions on the general business outlook for the year encompassing inflation, energy costs, labour shortages; key issues affecting growth and investment; and business support requirements.

A total of 178 businesses in the North West completed the survey with Cumbria the second highest contributing region after Greater Manchester. In total the survey received 1,000 responses nationwide.

This comes alongside high levels of Cumbrian engagement with the BCC Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) for Q1 2023. The results of the QES are to be published by Cumbria Chamber at the start of April.

Among the findings from the Business Outlook Survey are:

  • Two thirds of businesses (65%) plan to raise prices due to cost pressures
  • Almost half (47%) say paying energy bills will be difficult when the current business support package ends
  • More than half (52%) are consistently experiencing difficulties recruiting staff
  • Concerns around regulation and taxation are regularly troubling a third of firms (30%)
  • Comments from Cumbrian businesses in the survey reflected the national picture.

The survey backs up findings from the BCC’s most recent Quarterly Economic Survey of more than 5,000 companies which found business confidence remains at Covid-crisis levels.

It found that only one in three (34%) businesses believed their profits will increase over the coming year, and more (36%) expected a decline.  While a quarter of firms reported a decrease in sales in the last quarter of 2022, with hospitality firms the least likely to report improvements.

Commenting on the findings, Cumbria Chamber MD Suzanne Caldwell said: “I’m delighted that Cumbrian businesses are now taking such an active part in these national surveys, making sure that the Cumbrian experience is well represented against larger and often more vocal areas.

I doubt the responses will be a surprise to anyone but it’s always useful to be able to back up perceptions and anecdote with factual data!”

The BCC has set out four key areas where the Chancellor must act in the budget if businesses are to make headway in bolstering the economy in 2023.

These are:

  • Unlocking talent and easing pressure in the labour market by making childcare more affordable for cash-strapped parents and guardians
  • Boosting the UK’s start-ups by further reforming the business rates system to remove the upfront financial squeeze they face
  • Setting a framework for Solvency II investment that helps direct funds to where they can have the most impact, leveraging the opportunities of green innovation
  • Funding to help businesses become greener and more energy efficient


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