Business confidence in East Mids lowest in UK, says report

Business confidence in the East Midlands fell eight points during November to 10 per cent, the lowest of any region in the UK, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in the East Midlands report lower confidence in their business prospects, which fell eight points to nine per cent, and lower economic optimism at 11 per cent, also down eight points.

Despite this, says the report, companies’ hiring intentions remained steady, with a net balance of 20 per cent of businesses in the region expecting to hire more staff during the next year.

Meanwhile, a net balance of 15 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. This compares with a month ago, when firms were evenly split on whether Brexit was having a negative or positive impact, with a net balance of zero per cent.

Across the UK, overall confidence bounced back, climbing five points to 24 per cent as firms’ optimism about the economy rose nine points to 17 per cent. Companies’ confidence in their own business prospects rose two points to 31 per cent.

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

Amanda Dorel, regional director for East Midlands at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It’s disappointing to see the East Midlands bucking the national trend and falling in confidence.

“It seems that economic uncertainties are now weighing heavy on firms’ optimism and a greater number of firms now expect Brexit to have a negative impact.

“The East Midlands is home to a thriving manufacturing sector, and many will now be hoping that greater clarity over our future trading relationships will help them plan for whatever opportunities and challenges lie ahead.”