PLANNING for the economic upturn will be just as challenging as coping with the downturn, St Neots-based accountants Streets predict. Following a series of post-Budget road shows for companies in Cambridgeshire, the firm's marketing director James Pinchbeck said: "Whether we will see signs of recovery in the final quarter of this year, as predicted by the Chancellor, is hard to say. Times are still challenging for businesses, and the guidance they receive from their advisers is as important now as it ever has been. "Hopefully, sooner rather than later, it will be time for businesses to start to look at what needs to be done in readiness for an upturn. Planning for recovery can be as equally challenging as those decisions and actions that had to be taken as we entered the economic downturn." Mr Pinchbeck said the responses provided interesting feedback and a barometer on issues facing businesses in the region. Delegates appeared cautious about sharing the Chancellor's optimism about a swift recovery, with many respondents indicating that the main signs for the start of an economic upturn would be the levelling-off of unemployment levels, an ease in collecting debts and the levelling-off of the fall in house prices. For some, the ability to obtain external funding, bank borrowing and finance will also be a positive sign of improved confidence or at least an indicator of stability within the financial sector, he added. "In terms of the challenges that businesses face over the next 12 months, the feedback provided a useful snap-shot of some common felt issues. While some businesses fare better than others, the concern for many seems to focus on maintaining turnover and the level of business activity," he said. "The knock-on affect too has been a tightening of cash flow and a pressure on profitability. This situation is often exacerbated by the unknown timescale of how long things are going to remain like this. Businesses have had to focus more on day-to-day management as opposed to long-term planning.