Company directors in Cambridge and
southern Cambridgeshire are more optimistic now about the prospects
for their businesses than they were three months ago, according to the
latest survey of business opinion from the Institute of Directors
(IoD). Directors in Peterborough and the north of Cambridgeshire are
now less optimistic than they were in the summer - but are still much
more bullish than the national average.
Overall across the UK the level of
optimism - expressed as the difference between directors feeling more
optimistic now than they were three months ago and those feeling less
optimistic - stands at 23 per cent in the latest survey. However, the
Southern survey region (which includes Cambridge and the south of the
county) has an optimism figure of 26 per cent and the figure for the
Midlands region which includes Peterborough and the north of
Cambridgeshire is a relatively impressive 27 per cent.
Three months ago the figures stood at
23 per cent in the South and 32 per cent in the Midlands.
Stephanie Smye, chairman of the IoD
Eastern Branch which represents almost 1,000 company directors
throughout Cambridgeshire, said: "After a brief rally in the
summer national business optimism is now falling again, continuing the
trend that lasted throughout 2000 and early 2001. The fact that our
local figures are better than the national average - and even
increasing in the south of Cambridgeshire - is encouraging."
Despite the mixed views about the
future, the survey shows that more firms in both Peterborough and
Cambridge are now working at full capacity then they were three months
ago. Capacity utilisation (measured as the balance between firms
operating at full capacity and those operating at less than this) has
risen from -12 per cent to just -2 per cent in the Peterborough survey
region and from -24 per cent to -10 per cent in the Cambridge survey
The balance of firms with full order
books in the region which includes Cambridge has risen from 2 per cent
three months ago to an impressive 12 per cent - the highest of any UK
region - while that of firms in the region which includes Peterborough
has fallen from 11 per cent to 9 per cent.
This has fed through into employment,
with a balance of 32 per cent of firms in the Southern (Cambridge)
region saying they are employing more people now than they were three
months ago. The figure for the Midlands (Peterborough) region is 26
Miss Smye said: "The economy in
this area seems relatively buoyant. Most directors are cautious or
even nervous about the future but, with a few exceptions, their firms
are currently busy. Some, like my own company, are recruiting
additional staff and continuing to invest in new technology.
"There may be a difficult few
months ahead on the economic front but we should be aware of the
danger of talking ourselves into a recession. Our economic future is
largely in our own hands."