By Jonathan Davies

UK businesses reported slower growth in the first quarter of 2015, according to the latest survey from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The survey of 7,500 companies employing more than 850,000 people found slower growth in domestic sales and exports, particularly in the manufacturing and services sectors.

The net balance of manufacturers reporting growth in domestic orders was +27%, down from +38% in the previous quarter. The services sector reported a net +28%, compared to +33% at the end of 2014.

With figures like yesterday's record new car sales for the 21st century suggesting a healthy consumer economy, the BCC's figures raise questions over the overall strength of the economy.

BCC director general John Longworth said: "While it is a fact that growth in the economy continues these figures are a reminder that the path to great, sustainable, long-term growth is bumpy and challenging. As the general election approaches support for growth must be at the heart of the debate, with a much needed focus on boosting exports and business investment."

Its chief economist David Kern said the survey show that "the UK recovery remains unbalanced - growth is still too reliant on consumer spending and the current account deficit remains unsustainable. While a healthy consumer sector is vital for the economy’s wellbeing, much greater efforts are needed to increase the contributions of exports and capital investment to Britain’s growth.

"The Q1 2015 results show falling inflationary pressures, particularly in manufacturing, and easing pressures on capacity; this reinforces our view that the MPC must maintain interest rates at their current low level at least until early in 2016.”