31 Jan East of England business confidence leapt in January
Business confidence in the East of England soared 20 points during January to 18%, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.
Companies in the East report higher confidence in their business prospects at 23% and higher economic optimism at 11%. Together, this gives an overall confidence of 18%.
Businesses’ hiring intentions showed that a net balance of 23% of businesses in the region expect to hire more staff during the next year, up 14 points on last month.
Across the UK, overall confidence rose 13 points to 23% as firms’ optimism in the economy soared 22 points to 24%, while confidence in their own prospects increased four points to 22%.
The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.
David Atkinson, regional director for the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It’s encouraging to see businesses in the East of England making such a positive start to 2020. As a period of prolonged uncertainty shows signs of clearing, we’d expect firms to begin reviving any investment plans that may have previously been mothballed.
“This growth in confidence is a testament to the calibre and resilience of our local business community, and we will continue to stand by their side as we anticipate lending up to £1.7 billion to East of England businesses during 2020.”
Across the region, a net balance of 10% 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, compared to 13% a month ago.
Businesses in London had the highest confidence at 38%, ahead of the South West at 34%, and the East Midlands at 31%
Those in Scotland were the least confident, with an overall confidence of -4%, 27 points below the national average.
In January, overall business confidence saw a marked improvement in the construction and services sector with construction increasing 15 points to 27%, while services increased 17 points to 21%. Confidence in the retail sector increased by two point to 24%, while the manufacturing sector saw a decrease of six points to 21%