The Bank of England updated business leaders on the current health of the British economy at a Telford College breakfast briefing.
Glynn Jones, deputy agent for the Bank across the West Midlands and Oxfordshire, ran through key trends from the past three months in a presentation at the college’s Haybridge campus.
The Bank’s quarterly inflation report sets out the economic analysis and inflation projections that the Monetary Policy Committee uses to make its interest rate decisions.
The briefing was organised by the policy team at Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, and attracted representatives from a wide range of sectors including banking, accountancy, property, recruitment, manufacturing, and construction.
Telford-born Mr Jones, who has been with the Bank since 2011, said a lot of the current
predictions were based around the assumption that the UK would see a ‘smooth Brexit’ over coming months.
But he added: “It’s fair to say that, at the present time, the Brexit fog has not lifted.”
Mr Jones told the event that market expectations for interest rate rises had fallen markedly in recent months.
He also spoke of a rise in imports from the European Union, which the Bank is putting down to ‘stock-building’ in the run-up to Brexit.
Consumer confidence remained strong, he said – in contrast to the feeling among businesses and the money markets – although there were signs of families starting to become a little more hesitant about making ‘large scale purchases’.
Mr Jones also revealed that business investment levels remained weak, largely due to the uncertainty over the EU departure which was prompting many companies to defer expansion or diversification plans.
He said there was currently very little spare capacity in the labour market, as unemployment continued to fall.
Graham Guest, principal and chief executive of Telford College, earlier opened the event with a reminder to business delegates.
“We are here for the business community, to help develop your workforces,” he said, pointing to new initiatives such as the launch of ground-breaking aviation engineering courses which begin in September.
How we can help your business…
- Make the most of your contributions and understand the levy
- Work closely with our experienced business development team
- Discover bespoke training tailored to meet your needs
- Increase efficiency and performance within your organisation
- We offer a completely FREE recruitment service for apprentices
- Learn more about your eligibility for FREE funding – a ¬£1,000 incentive may also be available