8 Out of 10 Firms Report Increased Prices as Issues in Supply Chains Mount

November 16, 2021

New BCC data released from a survey of over 1,000 businesses has thrown sharp focus on the impact of skills and commodities shortages for UK firms, with spiralling prices in evidence. The data show an overwhelming majority of businesses are raising prices as they face acute shortages and cost pressures – with vehicle fuel, shipping containers and utilities cited as the top areas of concern.

When asked if they had seen a change in the price of their goods or services in the past year, 80 per cent of respondents in total reported increases, with 46 per cent reporting significant increases and 34 per cent reporting slight increases. 15 per cent reported no change with only two per cent reporting any kind of decrease.

For manufacturers the above question drew an even starker answer – 92 per cent had seen an increase in the price of their good and services.

When asked whether they, or any business in their supply chain, had experienced either increased costs or shortages of a variety of commodities over the past 12 months the results were striking:

  • Of all respondents: 52% cited vehicle fuel, 34% shipping containers and 30% utilities such as gas or electricity
  • Of manufacturers: 50% cited steel, 47% shipping containers, 45% vehicle fuel, 39% paper or cardboard, 38% plastics or rubber, 29% chemicals, 19% semiconductors. Only 2% of manufacturers reported that they had not faced increased costs or shortages from the items

Half (50%) of businesses surveyed reported that either they, or others within their supply chains, had experienced skills shortages in the past 12 months. This figure rose to 75 per cent for larger firms with over 50 employees and was least prevalent among firms employing less than 10 people at 31 per cent. Roles commonly mentioned included HGV drivers, engineers, warehouse staff, accountants, chefs and IT technicians.

Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “These figures present a deeply worrying picture of the difficulties that businesses are currently facing, across multiple fronts as supply chain disruption persists.

“Firms are facing huge pressures as they battle to keep on track for Christmas and provide the goods and services the UK needs, but we have yet to see any concrete steps to address these issues.

“Unless action is taken soon, firms could be forced to cut back on their capacity or limit the range of products they offer.

“The huge number of unfilled vacancies is placing further strain on staff having to cover, and Covid is also still with us. With more than 30,000 people a day having to isolate, it presents another on-going disruption to the workforce which businesses must grapple with.

“While there are some global issues at play, there are levers that the Government can pull to improve current business conditions, for example, the introduction of an energy price cap for SMEs and providing more temporary visas in the hardest hit sectors through expansion of the Shortage Occupation List.

“The new Supply Chain Advisory Group must look carefully at these and other solutions to the immediate and longer-term challenges.

“Firms also want to see a moratorium on all policy measures that increase upfront business costs for the remainder of this Parliament.”