The latest data, as released by the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) in conjunction with business advisors BDO NI, in the shape of the Quarterly Economic Survey (QES), has found that business performance, along with business confidence, has greatly improved in the first quarter of the year.
Positive That Turnover Would Increase
60% of the businesses that were involved in the survey said they were very positive that their turnover would increase over the course of the next 12 months, with only 18% of those surveyed saying that they believed it would decrease.
Businesses were asked what they thought were the key factors to driving growth in Northern Ireland. Overall the most important factor was seen to be an EU/UK deal on the Protocol, followed by improved access to labour and skills, lower corporation tax, support with energy costs and lastly business rates reform.
On the negative side the survey showed that a large percentage of businesses were having difficulty in finding and retaining staff with the right level of skills for their company.
2023 A Year Of Potential For Northern Ireland
Commenting on the survey findings, Ann McGregor, chief executive, NI Chamber, is quoted in an article in the Belfast Newsletter as saying:
“With political agreement reached on the Windsor Framework and the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement soon upon us, 2023 is a year of potential that Northern Ireland must harness. This means turning targets into action and being confident and ambitious about economic growth now.
“After a notable decline in business confidence in the second half of 2022, results from quarter one of this year show a significant and timely improvement.
“Three years of economic challenges including EU exit, the pandemic, global supply chain crises, inflation and political instability have all taken a significant toll on our members, so it is encouraging to see sentiment improving, albeit from a weak base.
“What matters now is that policymakers commit to an absolutely razor-like focus on economic growth – that includes listening to businesses on how to drive it. We must capitalise on the opportunities offered by the Windsor Framework and ensure that operational challenges are minimised. Of course, that is just one part of the jigsaw; for optimal growth businesses need a restored, functioning Executive to support them in attracting and retaining the best people, with the right blend of skills. Helping businesses tackle the skills challenge is just one of the many reasons we need to see the devolved institutions restored urgently.”
There does seem to be an air of optimism in the air in the business community, fingers crossed that this can continue to the end of the year and beyond.