Lincolnshire Businesses head into 2019 with confidence Improvement in cash flow position, capital investment, UK sales and orders remaining positive were just a couple of the responses noted in the Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) for Quarter 4 2018. Results also demonstrated the rise in recruitment activity with future intentions remaining strong but some businesses comment on the struggle to find the right calibre of candidates. Looking ahead into 2019, this quarter makes it four in a row in terms of further increase in confidence levels around profitability, turnover and the future, despite such political uncertainty. However, whilst there are several positive factors to take through 2019, it does not come without further potential headwinds. Overseas sales have dropped but orders keep improving. Price pressure remains low, with businesses expecting to increase prices of their goods or services over the next three months rising slightly, this remains relatively low compared to figures reported throughout 2018. Cllr Colin Davie, Executive Councillor for Economy and Place, said: "Lincolnshire's businesses seem to be optimistic for the future, despite the current uncertainty around Brexit. "I think we'll see that confidence increase as the year goes on and the future of our trading relationships with the EU and other countries becomes clearer. "And the county council and its partners will be on hand to support local firms in making the most of the new opportunities." Reporting on a national level, which shows a difference to that of just Lincolnshire, the UK QES found that the UK economy ended 2018 stuck in a weak holding pattern, with stagnating levels of growth and business confidence as a result of heightened Brexit uncertainty and other economic pressures. Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce, Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (GLLEP), Lincolnshire County Council and the University of Lincoln record these results and continue to support data gathering to help inform the local and national policy. Therefore, participation must increase in order to provide a thorough analysis and speak out on behalf of the total local business economy. Therefore, all organisations are encouraging local businesses to fill out the survey throughout 2019 and beyond, ensuring future results ahead of, and post Brexit, are accurate and relevant. Simon Beardsley, Chief Executive at Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce commented saying: “Throughout 2018 Lincolnshire has seen positive employment growth across virtually all our priority sectors, in general the value of our local economy has grown, as have the number of businesses operating in the county. “A theme in our Q4 survey was Cyber Crime and it was great to see so many Lincolnshire businesses are prepared. I would though reiterate the importance of maintaining vigilance and protecting your digital presence against an ever more complex and increasing threat. “There are considerable risks to this progress if no clarity on the trading conditions businesses will face in just two months’ time. Companies are understandably holding back on spending and making big decisions about their futures. It must now be the government’s absolute priority to provide clarity on conditions in the near term and avoid a messy and disorderly Brexit. Business in Lincolnshire and beyond will not forgive politicians who allow this to happen, by default or otherwise. “As we edge closer to our possible departure from the EU, it seems that this year will be more important than ever for businesses to participate and have their say through the QES. These results are key for assessing where the Lincolnshire business economic climate stands in comparison to that of a national scale. “As a Chamber, we are continually supporting businesses through this process and we are encouraging all businesses who will be, directly and indirectly affected, to undertake a Brexit ‘health check’ and a broader test of existing business plans, you can do this through our Business Brexit Checklist. To view the full briefing, please visit Lincolnshire Research Observatory. To view the national picture, please visit British Chambers of Commerce.