Firms see work volume fall

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FIRMS saw volumes contract, the first fall since November 2009.

The CBI’s quarterly service sector survey found value and volume of professional services deals at -22%. In November 2009, the balances were -27%.

Firms predict a slower rate of decline in the next quarter, but that is still the weakest expectation since February 2009.

Numbers employed in business and professional services firms grew 11% for the second successive quarter, with employment expected to grow again in the next quarter.

Richard Woolhouse, CBI head of fiscal policy, said: “This quarter we’ve seen more evidence of the ongoing decline in consumer services spending, as people with increasingly squeezed household incomes are forced to cut back their discretionary spending.

“What is new, and was not expected this quarter, is that spending on business and professional services also fell, something not seen since November 2009.

“However, despite tough trading conditions, business and professional service firms have increased staff numbers, while employment in consumer services fell more slowly than expected.”

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