May 10, 2013

Positive outlook for Oxfordshire’s businesses

Hosted by Oxfordshire law firm Withy King, accountants Shaw Gibbs and bankers HSBC and held at the new extension to the Said Business School; the owners and directors of Oxfordshire businesses came together last night (Thursday 9 May) to debate the economy at the Economic Question Time event.

Mark Berrisford-Smith, Head of Economics for HSBC’s commercial banking business in the UK, gave a keynote speech which highlighted the issues and opportunities for Oxfordshire businesses in the context of global, UK and local economic challenges and the Chancellor’s Spring budget.

This was followed by a stimulating question time chaired by Nicola Blackwood, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon; directed at panelists Richard Baxter Head of Oxford Corporate and Commercial team at Withy King; Lorna Watson Audit and Tax Partner at Shaw Gibbs and Nicky Godding, Cotswold Life’s Business Editor.

The one hundred delegates were asked “how do you feel the economy will affect your business in the next 12 months”: 45% answered positively – reflecting Mark’s comment that it is the attitude and actions of businesses and consumers, which will have an effect on economic recovery, as well as China and Europe’s growth.

A further 26% felt the economy would have no impact on their business success. Just 17% felt the economy would have a negative impact on their business and 12% left unsure.
With questions covering tax and vat; investment and loans for SMEs; and infrastructure including roads, airports and HS2, the debate was engaging and, at times, resembled the Question Time we see on the television.

The Question Time event certainly had the desired effect of impassioning business owners, who continued to debate the economy and talk about their businesses – rather than football, the usual subject of the day – over canapés and drinks afterwards.

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