Business bosses in Staffordshire have predicted that the worst of the recession is over - but that recovery is not yet guaranteed.
Peter Ralphs, chief executive of Southern Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, said members’ results mirrored the national picture - and warned that heavy taxes on business could hinder recovery.
Mr Ralphs said: “Our message to government is that, whilst we understand the need to restrain public expenditure, taxing business, the wealth-creating part of the economy, is ill-advised.
“The proposed National Insurance increase is a tax on jobs. The axing of Empty Property Rate Relief needs to be reversed. We also want to see a reduction of the small companies’ rate of corporation tax to 20 per cent, automation of Small Business Rate relief, as well as a three-year moratorium on non-essential government activity that imposes a cost on business.
“Additionally, with fuel prices back up to over £1 a litre, we want to see the fuel escalator of two pence extra per litre proposed for October postponed.”
Nationally, data from 5,600 companies showed progress in both the manufacturing and service sectors, with most key indicators improving in the last quarter.
However, almost all the critical measures remain in negative territory and many are still weak by historical standards.
Manufacturing recorded stronger improvements than services, although in absolute terms, the manufacturing sector remained in a worse condition overall.
The most encouraging feature of the quarterly results was a marked strengthening in confidence following sharp declines over the previous two quarters. Employment expectations in both sectors saw gains this quarter, but the British Chambers of Commerce predicted that unemployment will reach 3.2 million - some ten per cent of the workforce - by mid 2010.