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Business confidence in the East of England has risen to the highest level since April 2018

01 Jul Business confidence in the East of England has risen to the highest level since April 2018

Business confidence in the East of England rose ten points during June to 36%, the highest level recorded in the region for more than three years, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in the East of England reported higher confidence in their own prospects month-on-month, up 13 points at 38%. When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, up six points to 33%, this gives a headline confidence reading of 36%.

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

When it comes to jobs, a net balance of 21% of businesses in the region expect to increase staff levels over the next year, up six points on last month.

Overall UK business confidence remained steady month-on-month at 33%. Firms reported a small increase in their business prospects up two points to 30%, the highest reading since September 2020. Confidence in the economy dipped marginally by two points to 36%.

Across the UK all regions and nations reported positive confidence readings for the third consecutive month. Alongside the East of England, businesses in Scotland (up 27 points to 42%) and London (up 17 points to 41%) reported the highest increases in overall confidence.

While confidence remained positive, firms in eight regions reported a month-on-month drop. The biggest decreases were seen in Yorkshire and Humber (down 14 points to 30%), the West Midlands (down 12 points to 29%), the North West (down nine points to 29%) and East Midlands (down nine points to 31%).

Dave Atkinson, regional director for the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The East of England has one of the most robust economies in the UK and despite the challenges of the past 18 months, businesses in the region have remained resilient.

“With restrictions continuing to ease and the prospect of a return to normality on the horizon, it’s clear firms’ hard work and patience is paying off, with confidence soaring to the highest levels recorded for more than three years.

“Whatever the coming months may bring, we’ll help to capitalise on new opportunities and emerge from the pandemic in the strongest possible position.”

The majority of responses were given before the various UK governments formally announced the delay to the removal of all limits on social contact, which was originally expected to happen on 21st June in England and close to that date in other parts of the UK.

However, it is likely that anticipation of the delay may have had a small negative impact in confidence particularly in the retail sector (down eight points to 36%) while manufacturing also fell (down 18 points to 35%).

Despite this, confidence remains at historically high levels across the broad industry sectors – in part due to services increasing by five points (31%) to its highest level in more than three years and construction remaining steady at 35%.

Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “A fifth consecutive monthly increase in trading prospects and employment expectations highlights the resilience of UK businesses as they continue to recover from the challenges presented by the pandemic.

“Although we must now wait slightly longer for the last remaining COVID-19 restrictions to ease, it’s an encouraging sign that firms continue to have strong overall confidence in the outlook for the UK economy, as well as their expectations for their own growth prospects.”