Confidence slumps in West Midlands

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The Independent Online
CONFIDENCE among businesses in the West Midlands has slumped, with companies reporting a sharp decline in orders and exports, and unemployment forecast to worsen in the next three months.

According to the latest quarterly economic survey from the region's chambers of commerce, companies have also become more gloomy about investing, while the proportion of businesses working below capacity has risen.

The September survey, carried out immediately prior to the sterling crisis and covering 453 firms, is one of the gloomiest yet and shows that confidence, orders and deliveries have all nose-dived since July.

A quarter of firms expect to cut their workforce in the next three months, nearly half reported that home orders were down compared with three months ago and 38 per cent said export orders were also down, compared with 25 per cent in July.

Andrew Millward, chairman of the West Midlands Chambers of Commerce, said: 'What all businesses now need is a period of calm and reassurance that the Government has a consistent economic policy that will positively aid recovery.'

Demand for credit showed the biggest year-on-year decline in August, according to the credit information group Infolink. Car loan applications fell 13 per cent.