Are companies in our region feeling optimistic about the future?
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Is Brexit uncertainty making companies in the east of England less inclined to hire new staff?
Growing confidence in the economy has resulted in a boost in business confidence in the East of England during September, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.
Companies in the East of England report higher economic optimism at 29%, up 16 points on the previous month, while confidence in their own business prospects edged up one point to 28%.
Together, this gives an overall confidence of 28%, which is eight points above last month’s figure of 20%.
A net balance of 17% of businesses in the region expect to hire more staff during the next year, but while this is positive, it also marks an eight point fall compared with last month.
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Nationally, overall confidence rose six points to 29% as firms’ optimism about the economy bounced back after August’s dip, rising nine points to 26%. Businesses’ confidence in their own business prospects rise three points to 32%.
The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.
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Andrew Connors, regional director for the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “September marks the second month in a row where local firms have reported increased confidence in their own business prospects.
“While hiring intentions took a slight dip, firms have remained optimistic about the wider UK economy and their prospects in the next 12 months.”
September’s survey found that across the region, 26% of businesses said they felt that the UK’s exit from the European Union was having a positive impact on their expectations for business activity.
Firms in the construction sector were the most confident in September, up five points to 41%, followed by consumer services (33%).
Reflecting the buoyant local construction industry, Clearfield, a recruitment agency specialising in the construction industry, based in Ipswich, doubled its headcount in the last year to 26.
Manufacturing businesses, however, saw confidence fall – the only broad sector to do so – declining seven points to 31%.
Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Nationally, August’s dip in economic confidence and overall business confidence, appears to have been just that – a dip – and has been reversed in September.
“A brighter outlook, while potentially linked to what many firms saw as increasing signs of progress in Brexit negotiations earlier in the month, illustrates a more positive view on the balance of risks facing businesses as they enter the fourth quarter of the year.”