The latest economic data from the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce has revealed that business activity across Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield based organisations has declined in Q4 of 2023, with employment and sales having both fallen from Q3’s figures.

The Quarterly Economic Survey, run by the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, is part of the national British Chambers of Commerce research and serves as a barometer of business performance across the nation. The findings, categorised into service sector firms and manufacturers, help to inform decision makers including the Treasury and Bank of England.

The latest report found that 38 per cent of manufacturers and 30 per cent of service sector firms in the area saw a decline in UK sales, with service sector firms also experiencing overseas sales declining at their sharpest rate (40 per cent) since the pandemic.

Despite this, service sector firms are committed to staff training, with 32 per cent increasing their investment in this area.

Neither the service nor manufacturing sectors reported an anticipated profit loss in Q1 of 2024, with many firms optimistic about the New Year.

While inflation fell in Q4 2023, it remained a main concern for business leaders in West Yorkshire. Interest rates and ongoing overseas conflicts were also cited as negatively impacting business performance.

The fieldwork was carried out following the news that the Government had cancelled HS2 to the north of England, something 33 per cent of business leaders in Yorkshire said was bad news for their enterprise.

Martin Hathaway, managing director of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “While quarter four presented some challenges with inflation still squeezing many organisations across our region, it is extremely encouraging to see that investment for staff training in service sector firms increased by over 30 per cent.  

“Upskilling and training staff is crucial to see future growth, setting us up for a strong 2024 to get back on track and back to delivering the exceptional business successes that Yorkshire is known for.

“In 2023 we as a Chamber had a huge focus on skills, working with our partners at the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, researching, planning and beginning to implement the Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) for West Yorkshire. This is a key project that we will continue to work closely with our education providers on throughout 2024 to ensure we get things right for generations to come.”

Calderdale Council’s chief executive, Robin Tuddenham, said: “It’s been another challenging year for businesses, with the results from the latest Quarterly Economic Survey demonstrating how national and international factors are making for turbulent trading conditions for some.

“Cost of living and inflationary pressures continue to have an impact, with increasing costs and reduced community spending. Our talented and enterprising businesses have bounced back from economic difficulties before, but we know we’re facing continued challenges to resilience.

“However, there is reason to be optimistic and we continue to do all we can to support business growth and encourage innovation.

“This spirit of innovation is set for a further boost in early 2024, as the Industry 4.0 Skills Hub is due to open in Brighouse. This high-tech facility, led by Calderdale College alongside the Council and other partners, will be the first of five projects delivered as part of the town’s £19.1 million Town Deal.

“It will build on Calderdale’s strong industrial heritage to support the growth of manufacturing and digital skills through the latest technology and equipment and offer opportunities for apprenticeships and training to allow employers to upskill their current workforce. This will be a catalyst for investment and employment opportunities in the area.”

The Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce connects, supports and represents organisations across the Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield districts.

To read the full Quarterly Economic Report for Q4 2023, please visit: https://my-chamber.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/MYC-QES-Report-Q4-2023.pdf.