Confidence boost among East of England businesses – in spite of Brexit

Lloyds' Business Barometer shows business confidence in the East of England has improved from where

Lloyds' Business Barometer shows business confidence in the East of England has improved from where it was in March Picture: LOWESTOFT COLLEGE - Credit: Archant

Confidence among East of England firms is on the rise, a survey suggests.

Despite Brexit concerns, businesses’ overall confidence bounced back in April to stand at 2% – four points higher than in March – in Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking’s latest Business Barometer, which measures positive views against negative ones to arrive at a balance.

Last month, business confidence in the East of England fells to the lowest level in England.

Although the region’s firms report slightly lower confidence in their own business prospects this month than last at 12% compared to 13% in March, when combined with their more optimistic view on the economy, their overall confidence has improved.

A net balance of 5% of businesses expect to hire more staff in the next year, down one point from last month.

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However, Brexit is still acting as a drag, with a net balance of 20% of businesses saying they feel the UK’s exit from the European Union is having a negative impact on their expectations for business activity, down four points on a month ago.

The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly, giving early signals about UK economic trends regionally and nationwide.

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Regional director David Atkinson said: “While it’s encouraging to see overall business confidence rising, firms are still facing a number of uncertainties.

“Many are understandably cautious as a result, with the number of firms planning to create new jobs this year taking another slight dip this month.

Businesses in the West Midlands showed the most confidence, at 28%, ahead of the North West (20%) and London (19%).

Those in Wales were the least confident, with an overall confidence of minus 1%, 15 points below the national average.

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