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Business confidence of firms in the East of England falls to the lowest in England

29 Mar Business confidence of firms in the East of England falls to the lowest in England

Business confidence of firms surveyed between 1st and 15th March in the East of England fell to the lowest in England during March, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Overall business confidence – an average of business prospects and economic optimism – dropped to minus two per cent in March, which is the region’s lowest reading since the regional Business Barometer survey was launched in January last year.

Confidence in firms’ own business prospects fell slightly to 13 per cent, compared with 15 per cent in February. When combined with their views on the economy overall, this gives an overall confidence figure of minus two per cent.

Hiring intentions also slipped two points with a net balance of six per cent of firms in the East of England now looking to create new jobs in the next 12 months.

Across the UK, overall confidence climbed six points to 10 per cent as firms’ optimism about the economy and their confidence in their own prospects bounced back from February’s lows.

Nationally, businesses’ confidence in their own prospects rose seven points to 20 per cent but firms are evenly split on whether they feel optimistic or pessimistic about the economy.

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

Steve Elsom, regional director for the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Businesses in the East of England are some of the most resilient in the country but, speaking to management teams across the region, many are being cautious with their operations.

“While overall confidence has dropped to the lowest level we’ve seen, we’ve pledged to be by the side of businesses whatever comes along. That’s why we’ve committed to lending up to £1.7billion to businesses in the region this year alone.”

Across the region, a net balance of 24 per cent of businesses said they felt that the UK’s exit from the European Union was having a negative impact on their expectations for business activity, down three points on a month ago.