January blues for UK economy

New orders decline for the first time in two-and-a-half years
Latest data shows reports a decline in incoming new work for the first time since July 2016.

The UK economy is at risk of stalling, or even worse, as escalating Brexit uncertainty coincides with a wider slower slowdown in the global economy.

The latest analysis from IHS Markit shows a decline in incoming new work for the UK service sector, for the first time since July 2016.

January data indicates a renewed loss of momentum for the UK service sector, with subdued demand resulting in business activity flatlining at the start of 2019.

January’s UK Services Business Activity Index was 50.1, down from 51.2 in December and only fractionally above the crucial 50.0 no-change value. The latest reading is the lowest for two and a half years and the second weakest since December 2012.

Once again, Brexit uncertainty has been blamed for the stagnating UK economy, with staffing levels declining for the first time since December 2012.

Duncan Brock, Group Director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, said: “The sector had the January blues last month, as employment dropped for the first time in over six years, and new order levels fell into contraction territory.

“At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Brexit uncertainty continues to be at the heart of the malaise as clients delayed orders and consumers were deeply reluctant to spend under the continuing cloud of hesitation, indecision and ambiguity.”