Growing optimism among business leaders

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BUSINESS leaders across Yorkshire have stressed that despite the severe damage sustained by the region’s economy during the recession they are now increasingly optimistic about the future.

With the economy picking up pace over the past six months, the Office for Budget Responsibility has repeatedly revised upwards its growth forecasts for the coming years.

Nigel Foster, president of the Leeds Chamber of Commerce, said: “There is no doubt the recession had a significant impact on businesses in Leeds. We saw some high-profile collapses, and a number of long-standing companies are no longer trading.

“But looking to the recent past and on into the future, we have seen a return of business confidence in the city. Improving confidence is beginning to reflect in increasing investment, with the property sector in particular reporting record office activity.”

James Newman, chairman of the Sheffield city region local enterprise partnership (LEP), said the Government must now consider devolving further powers to the region to help secure its long-term recovery.

“In recent months, the national economy has improved to the extent that it is being talked about as the fastest growing in the developed world,” he said. “While this is positive news for UK plc, our own analysis shows an upturn in the national situation doesn’t necessarily lead to improvements in the Sheffield region.

“We cannot continue to rely on London’s financial services for growth. To avoid a return to the economic problems of the last five years, the UK government must not deviate from its sensible policy of rebuilding its economic powerhouses outside of London.”