Business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire say many firms are yet to fully recover from Covid-19 but welcomed news that the economy had surpassed pre-pandemic levels at the back end of last year.
According to the latest figures from the ONS, the UK economy grew by 0.9 per cent between October and November, meaning GDP moved above the levels in February 2020 for the first time.
However, the figures relate to the period just before the Omicron variant was discovered and Plan B restrictions were introduced.
Sean Rose, head of policy at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This news is a welcome boost for everyone but we know that there are many businesses, across a range of sectors who are still far from where they were in February 2020.
“As well as the pandemic, there are other factors that are holding back growth including supply chain issues, rising costs and difficulties in recruiting.
“It is great to see the economy is recovering from the lows we reached at the height of the pandemic but it is also vitally important that we recognise the help and support that businesses are going to need for some time in order to build a strong, sustainable recovery.
“Also, as December showed, we can quickly be faced with a new challenge in the fight against Covid-19 that can lead to disruption for businesses and our most recent Quarterly Economic Survey reflected a dampening of confidence because of that.
“The team at the Chamber continue to provide advice to companies right across Coventry and Warwickshire – of all sizes and sectors – in order to help them grow and to deal with issues as they arise.”
Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “The latest figures confirmed a significant uptick in growth in November, before the emergence of Omicron and the implementation of Plan B
“Higher growth in services was the main driver in lifting overall economic output above pre-covid levels, amid a notable pick-up in health and retail activity. Although construction enjoyed a strong November, with supply chain disruption persisting, the near-term outlook for the sector remains challenging.
“Stronger growth in November is likely to be followed by a modest fall in output in December and January, as consumer caution to socialise and spend, and mounting staff absences sparked by Omicron and Plan B limit activity.
“While the UK economy should rebound once Plan B measures are lifted, surging inflation and persistent supply chain disruption may mean that the UK’s economic growth prospects remain under pressure for much of 2022.
“The Government must do all it can to support the economy through this challenging period. If the current restrictions persist or are tightened further then a more comprehensive support package that matches the scale of any new measures, will need to be put in place.”