Business confidence in the economy has crashed.
Now Chancellor Gordon Brown is being urged not to load business with any more taxes.
The latest Orange/Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales survey recorded a negative score of -6.8 - down from -0.7 in the previous quarter - among finance professionals across the UK.
The West Midlands is doing rather better, thought to be due to some of the benefits of business restructuring in recent years.
Reginald Wynniatt-Husey, president of the Birmingham and West Midlands ICAEW, said: "It is very encouraging that we are starting to see signs of confidence in the West Midlands.
"We have a very diverse range of
industries and services which make this a vibrant region. The industrious workforce has been the backbone in riding out the low periods of the past twelve months. Their efforts are starting to bear fruit. Also, the growth in sectors such as the creative industry, are starting make an impact which we welcome."
Business in the West Midlands anticipate a significant increase in turnover and profit growth in the next 12 months.
"This suggests that the region may be starting to reap the fruits of restructuring in companies such as Rover and Jaguar," said the report.
Business costs are forecast to remain high, although input prices growth is anticipated to slow from
3.6 per cent reported for the past 12 months to 2.7 per cent in the coming year.
Unemployment will continue to rise in the West Midlands in 2006, though slower than in 2005. Mr Wynniatt-Husey continued: "With Christmas approaching, it is clear that consumers are still tightening their belts, and retailers can expect to remain nervous about spending in the High Street. Growth is predicted to be lower than forecast by the Chancellor, and while the economy is not in freefall, indications are that it is weakening at a faster rate.
"With the consumer slowdown feeding into other parts of the economy, and with inflation currently above target, it is time to look seriously at how the Chancellor intends to plug the gap in the UK's finances.
"It is clear that in a time of slowdown and rising oil and input prices, business cannot take any further tax increases. Neither is there the stomach for further borrowing. The ICAEW is therefore calling on the Government to curtail the growth in public spending as a viable way of balancing the books. We are asking for more financial efficiencies as a way of achieving this, and not by depriving the public services of essential funding." n The latest Manufacturing Technologies Association survey shows a dip in orders for the sector over the summer.
However firms expect a recovery in the final quarter. Order intake was down two per cent on the second quarter of the year.
The percentage balance for business confidence was -8 per cent. This compares with -4 per cent in the 2nd quarter and zero per cent in the first period of 2005.
MTA director general, Andrew Manly said: "Expectations suggests that business in the sector is broadly flat at the moment; we expect some recovery in 2006."