Extreme inflationary pressures and recruitment headaches are slowing the pace of recovery post-Brexit and Covid, says the Bradford Chamber of Commerce.

The business organisation made the discoveries in its latest quarterly economic survey, now in its 33rd year, across West & North Yorkshire.

While firms continue to report domestic sales growth, there are strong signs that the pace of growth is being slowed by increasing cost pressure and access to skills and talent.

In manufacturing, domestic sales, export sales and capital investment all increased while training investment and business confidence remained unchanged from Q3.

In the service sector, domestic sales, export sales and training investment were all up but capital investment and business confidence both suffered decreases from the previous quarter.

Vicky Wainwright, Managing Director at Naylor Wintersgill and President of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, said of the results: “The crisis has placed extreme pressures on the cash reserves of many regional firms with supply chains still facing the twin challenges of Covid and Brexit and now with intense labour shortages leading to spiralling pay increases as companies try to recruit and retain workers.

“Companies are responding to these extreme inflationary pressures by looking to pass additional costs on to customers in ever greater numbers, with our measure at its highest level in this survey’s 32 year history.

“Despite this, manufacturers tell us they are bringing forward new capital investment programmes in ever greater numbers in order to meet the rise in demand.”

Sir Roger Marsh OBE DL, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and NP11, said, “The results of the survey point to a continued recovery in demand but with significant supply side constraints which are hampering growth. There are now also the consequences of Plan B that are currently unknown, but it is likely to have a severe impact on parts of the service sector.

“Labour shortages continue to be a key concern for businesses as hiring staff is proving challenging. The Combined Authority and LEP have recently implemented a series of new programmes to respond to identified skills and employment needs across West Yorkshire, details can be found on the Leeds City Region LEP website”

Fieldwork was conducted before the surge in the Omicron variant so the full impact of the last month may not be recorded in this data.

West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce has represented and supported businesses of all sizes and sectors based in Bradford, Leeds, York and North Yorkshire continuously since 1852.