County is bucking national trend to show growth signs

Picture: Paul Jacobs (142476-229) PPP-140824-032155001

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WHILE national export orders have declined to their lowest levels for a year, Hampshire is showing signs of a return to growth.

Hampshire Chamber of Commerce said 17 per cent of its members which export goods or services around the world have reported growth in overseas sales during the past three months.

That figure is up from just seven per cent in the previous quarter.

The chamber also said that 37 per cent of businesses, whether exporters or not, also reported a better cashflow position, compared to 16 per cent in the previous quarter.

Investment figures were better too. A third of firms said they had increased their training budgets and a quarter of respondents are putting more investment into plant and machinery.

But the chamber’s chief executive Jimmy Chestnutt says more needs to be done to ensure proposals such as the government’s Modern Workplaces consultation, which proposes sweeping changes to the arrangements for flexible working and parental leave, do not hamper growth locally.

He said proposals to extend the right to request flexible working had left around six out of 10 chamber members concerned, especially those which are small or medium-sized enterprises.

He added: ‘There is a risk with these proposals that we end up with yet more red tape at a time when the government should be introducing more growth-enhancing policies and boosting confidence.

‘Rather than imposing more costs on business, ministers should do all they can to foster demand, incentivise job creation and kickstart what remains a lacklustre economic recovery.’