WM highest in the UK again for business confidence

Business confidence in the West Midlands was unchanged in March at 48%, the highest of any UK region or nation for the second consecutive month.

According to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking – conducted between the 1st – 15th March ahead of the Chancellor’s Spring Budget, companies in the region reported lower confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, down two points at 55%.

When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, down one point to 40%, this gives a headline confidence reading of 48%.

West Midlands businesses identified their top target areas for growth in the next six months as investing in their team (45%), diversifying into new markets (36%), and evolving their offer (28%).

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

A net balance of 29% of businesses in the region expect to increase staff levels over the next year, down 21 points on last month.

Overall UK business confidence climbed 11 points to 32% in March, with firms reporting their highest confidence levels since May last year.

On average, firms felt positive about their own trading prospects with 39% of firms expecting business activity to increase in the next 12 months, up eight points on last month and 25% said they would increase staff levels by this time next year, up five points month on month.

Every UK region and nation had a positive confidence reading in March, with eight out of 11 regions recording a month-on-month increase in confidence. After the West Midlands,  Scotland (up 24 points), London (up 20 points), and the North East (up two points) all reported the second highest levels of confidence at 38%.

Dave Atkinson, regional director for the West Midlands at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It’s great to see the West Midlands remaining the most confident region in the UK.

“Businesses see investing in their teams as a key area for growth, and the news that the region is set to secure funding and greater control over skills and technical education, will be welcomed by many. We will be by the side of businesses to support them with the financial tools and advice they need to make the most of the opportunities ahead.”

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