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Summary of key findings

  • Whilst firms are optimistic about future sales and profitability, the GC survey and other national statistics and surveys show that there is heightened concern about input prices and the volatility of supply chains.
  • The stand-out change in the survey results for April is the proportion of firms identifying the pressing challenges of managing overall business finances (43% vs 33% previously). This is mirrored by a four percentage-point rise in businesses reporting insolvency risk / financial stress in other third party risk data (RedFlagAlert). That said, the survey shows that, in aggregate, cash reserves and cashflow still remain strong vs levels seen during the pandemic, and there has not (yet) been any signs of a significant rise in firms reporting late payments.
  • Recruitment remains a key challenge for business, amidst signs of a slowing growth in new vacancy rates. A third of firms are currently recruiting staff, and of these, half have reported difficulties recruiting for specific occupations – particularly in technical back-office roles.
  • Just over half of firms are looking to increase investment in workforce development in the year ahead, as half of the firms surveyed also said that skill-levels in their existing workforce were only partly at the level needed to fulfil their business plans.
  • The main areas of future support include business planning, financial advice, sales & marketing, workforce development and recruitment support.