Double dip fear lurks in the minds of confident Milton Keynes firms

Business cards
Business cards

BUSINESSES in Milton Keynes are increasingly confident about their own future despite niggling fears about a double dip recession.

That’s according to the second KPMG-Business Citizen Business Barometer survey of local attitudes about the economy.

In total, 69 per cent of local businesses are optimistic about their own business prospects for the next 12 months, up from 60 per cent six months ago. The survey was carried out before Christmas.

Peter Selvey, senior partner for business advisors KPMG in Milton Keynes said: “Against another year of economic turbulence, it is encouraging to see that our local business community is feeling confident about their prospects and the shape that their businesses are in. Issues such as a good transport network, quality of life and access to a wide range of advisors were all regarded as positive aspects of doing business here, which is why businesses ranked Milton Keynes as a good place to do business.

“However, our local community is not immune from the ongoing uncertainty in the Eurozone and weak demand and growth at home could have an impact next year if measures announced by the Chancellor last month do not start to help the economy to grow.”

There was further positive news as the number of local businesses planning to increase their workforce over the next six months also increased, with over a third (36 per cent) planning to recruit compared to 26 per cent six months ago. However, just over a quarter of respondents (26 per cent) expect their workforce to decrease in the first six months of 2012, which is also down on the 36% recorded earlier in the year.

Double dip recession, competition and cost issues remain the biggest threats to local businesses, with the prospect of a double dip recession becoming an increasing issue for 85 per cent of respondents, compared to 78 per cent six months ago.

Other findings from the business barometer included:

> 80 per cent of businesses would rate Milton Keynes a good or very good place to do business (up from 73 per cent).

> Access to influencers and key policy makers was the most negative aspect of life in the new city followed by the availability of local and further education opportunities – as last time

> 92 per cent of businesses will be focusing on their existing businesses in the next 12 months.

> 72 per cent (up from 54 per cent) expect their turnover to increase in the next six months, whilst 18 per cent expect it to decrease.

> 8 per cent have revised their capital investment plans downwards, whilst 77% plan to keep them unchanged.

> 62 per cent expect profitability to improve in the next 12 months, but 21 per cent expect it to get worse and 17 per cent think it will remain unchanged.

The Business Barometer findings were supported by an analysis of the new city’s economy at the Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Snapshot.

Ephraidge Rinomhota, senior research officer at Milton Keynes Council, told the gathering on November 23 at DeVere Harben House that the area has a larger and thriving private sector than most areas. He said unemployment is remaining lower than it was in 2009, there are a high level of vacancies and jobs growth will be happening in 2012 when Network Rail completes its move.

He added: “Milton Keynes remains a premier location for investment and growth.”

Milton Keynes has an estimated 11,025 businesses, 139,515 employees and 13,500 people who are self-employed.