Business confidence in East of England lags behind most other regions - report
- Credit: Bernard Pound
Businesses in the East of England are feeling more confident than those in some areas of the county, but lag behind others in Wales, the North East and South East, according to a study.
The latest Business in Britain report from Lloyds Bank, based on data gathered after the snap general election was called, found business confidence in this region was at an 18-month high.
The confidence index – an average of respondents’ expected sales, orders and profits over the next six months – increased to 22%, from January’s score of 20% and from 19% immediately following the EU referendum vote.
The Business in Britain report, now in its 25th year, gathers the views of more than 1,500 UK companies, predominantly small to medium sized businesses, and tracks the overall “balance” of opinion on a range of important performance and confidence measures, weighing up the percentage of firms that are positive in outlook against those that are negative.
Businesses in the East of England are feeling slightly more optimistic compared with Scotland (19%) and London (20%) but lag behind top-performers including Wales (34%), the North East (33%) and South East 28%, coming eighth in a table of 11 regions. The confidence index is an average of respondents’ expected sales, orders and profits over the next six months. It calculates the ‘net balance’ - the difference the percentage of firms that are positive in outlook against those that are negative. It can vary between -100 if all firms are negative and 100 if all firms are positive, 0 is neutral.
Steve Elsom, regional area director for small and medium-sized enterprises in the East of England for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking said: “Although it’s encouraging to see that overall confidence has risen slightly since our last survey in January, confidence remains only marginally higher than it was last September, in the wake of the EU Referendum result.”
Overall, compared with January, the share of firms in the East of England naming economic uncertainty as a potential threat fell slightly by seven points to 21%, whereas weaker UK demand rose by two points to 18%.
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The proportion of the region’s firms that said that they had experienced difficulty in recruiting skilled labour in the last six months, however, increased to a 10-year high of 62%.