Commenting on the preliminary GDP figure for the first quarter Phil Smith, MD of Business West said: “The latest ONS data shows a fall in GDP of 0.2% in the first quarter of 2012, technically returning the economy into recession.
"These figures are disappointing and a cause for concern over the short term but they paint an unduly pessimistic picture of the state of the economy as the longer term prospects remain positive.”
Business surveys, including the latest Business West Quarterly Economic Survey, have shown a more positive picture with local business confidence remaining strong.
A total 69% of respondents were either 'confident' or 'very confident' about their business prospects over the coming 12 months, up 3% on the quarter.
Phil said: “These figures are at odds with the experiences of many of our Chamber of Commerce members, who continue to operate with guarded optimism.
"Whilst the statistics may say we're in a technical recession, it’s important that we do not talk ourselves into defeat.
"Obviously there is a psyhological barrier of negative growth, however given the context of weak growth over the past few years, today's announcement doesn't change much for business in reality.
“However, the figures serve as a reminder that Government needs to go further in defining its economic vision, in order that business can have the confidence to invest and grow .
"It is clear that economic growth in the UK remains much too low. Businesses, including our Chamber members need to see a reallocation of priorities that will bolster business growth. That means reducing regulation, encouraging exports and improving infrastructure.
"While the government must persevere with plans to reduce the deficit despite these figures, it must introduce more measures to empower businesses to drive recovery.”
PUBLICATION: Wiltshire Business - 26 April 2012