More of region’s employers poised to cut jobs as lockdown levels rise

A second wave of coronavirus cases has dampened business confidence in the East of England, a survey

A second wave of coronavirus cases has dampened business confidence in the East of England, a survey suggests Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Business confidence in the East of England has dipped – but remains higher than in other parts of the UK, a survey suggests.

Lloyds Bank’s Business Barometer for October shows the region’s firms’ overall confidence in the economy stood at -8% — a fall of three points, while there was a balance of +5% in their confidence in their own business’s prospects compared to -4% in September.

The barometer polls 1,200 firms and records the balance between positive and negative answers to reveal overall trends.

MORE – Company bosses set to benefit from free training sessions to help boost their businessesWorryingly, a net balance of 11% expect to cut their workforces over the next year — 2% more than last month.

Across the UK, overall confidence dropped seven points month-on-month to -18%. While confidence about businesses’ own trading prospects dipped by only one point, their optimism in the economy fell by 14 points. UK business confidence has remained in negative territory since April, but the picture had been improving until October, with confidence steadily rising since May.

David Atkinson, regional director for the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said it was unsurprising with part of the region moving to a tier two lockdown this month that confidence had dipped.

“That said, businesses in the East of England have proven their resilience during this crisis and it’s encouraging to see some reporting a more positive outlook towards their own business prospects,” he said.

“However, as restrictions continue to increase across large parts of the country, it’s clear many challenges remain ahead.”

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The North West had the highest confidence in October at -2%, followed by the East of England (-8%), and North East (-10%). Optimism fell 21 points in Yorkshire to -29%, making it the least confident UK region.

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