Mark Sismey-Durrant, chief executive officer at Hampshire Trust Bank | 07:27 Wednesday 28th March 2018
Spring is a time of growth and activity is picking up for many of our customers.
In particular, we are seeing an uptick in specialist mortgages, as investors look to expand their portfolios, asset finance, with March's new vehicle registration plate driving an increased number of deals, and residential development in regions such as the North and South West of England.
This feeling of optimism is being reflected by recent GDP forecasts and inflation figures and we hope this positive momentum helps to plant seeds of growth for the longer term, bringing increased certainty to what has been, let's face it, an unprecedented period of change.
As part of the first ever Spring Statement earlier this month, the chancellor announced that the Office for Budget Responsibility had revised upwards the GDP forecast for 2018 given in the Autumn Budget from 1.4% to 1.5%.
While this growth is predicted to slow slightly in 2021 and 2022, this is positive news for companies and consumers alike and it is important we remain optimistic in the longer term. After all, forecasts are predicting that GDP will continue to grow and that's what we all want to see.
In addition, the latest Office of National Statistics figures show that inflation fell to 2.7% in February from 3% the previous month, mainly due to falling petrol prices and a slower rise in the cost of food, which is good news all round.
Although there is still a way to go to reach the government target of 2%, this is a seven-month low and it is encouraging to see inflation moving in the right direction.
As the Bank of England has indicated, this improved position may result in a bank rate rise in the coming months, which could have a positive impact for savers.
While we recognise that these short-term indicators can fluctuate, we remain positive about the longer term.
We believe the recent announcement of a transitional plan towards Brexit is a positive step towards a more orderly progression of the Brexit process, sterling responded strongly on the back of it and the economy continues on the road to recovery.
We must do everything that we can to support UK SMEs – the engine of the economy – in continuing to drive growth as we move through the rest of this year and beyond.
This year remains a challenging time for British businesses, however, SMEs need to carry on investing and innovating to support growth.
Specialist banks, such as Hampshire Trust Bank, will play an increasingly critical role in providing the funding SMEs need to thrive and flourish. We are committed to supporting British business through this season and beyond, now and in the future.
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