The latest ICAEW/Grant Thornton business confidence monitor index fell to 32.3 this quarter from 37.3 last quarter. But this is still a high reading and more positive news on the economy arrived in the form of a survey showing housebuilders enjoyed the 15th consecutive month of growth amid a resilient housing market, which is seeing the biggest surge in development for more than a decade.
Sharing in this success – and also benefitting from our efforts to diversify into other markets – Plastic Surgeon can report that this July was our best month dating back through our entire 15 year trading history – even beating pre-recession levels. Managing Director Rob Mouser explains: “Due to the government’s Help to Buy scheme, almost 40,000 extra households have now become homeowners, which has helped boost residential building to its highest level since 2007, and led to a 34 per cent increase in private housebuilding during the first year of the scheme. This has obviously had a knock-on effect on our business at Plastic Surgeon; and in a very positive way.”
Rob Mouser continues: “However, while housebuilding is still a significant part of our business, the fact that we have diversified throughout the recession into providing a specialist building repair service for insurers, facilities management companies and cruise ships as well as social housing maintenance, post-recession has contributed to our strong order book.”
And while construction firms are saying they are expecting investment to take a dip in the coming months due to the shortage of skilled workers, Plastic Surgeon is bucking this trend, with staffing levels at a record high; while we’re still continuing our recruitment drive across the UK. Interestingly the ICAEW said that employment among UK firms continued to rise in the quarter, with businesses expecting a 2.5 per cent increase in employee numbers over the next year.
This equates to over half a million new jobs in the private sector with large private companies taking on the most new staff, followed by small and medium firms, ICAEW confirmed.
Reflecting wider uncertainty across commerce, a survey of businesses by the Prince’s Trust and HSBC found 43 per cent think Britain’s recovery will slow down during the next 12 months, due to a lack of skilled workers.
Martina Milburn, Chief Executive of The Prince’s Trust said: “The current economic recovery is encouraging, but in order to sustain this growth, UK plc needs to invest in the next generation to avoid a skills vacuum in the future, which threatens to hamper economic growth.
“We are urging businesses to take action now to up-skill the workforce of the future to prevent the bubbling skills crisis from boiling over.”
We’re doing our best at Plastic Surgeon.