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East of England firms’ confidence in economy plummets amid Brexit uncertainty

PUBLISHED: 12:51 30 October 2018

Business confidence in the east has plummeted, a survey suggests Picture: ROB WATKINS

Business confidence in the east has plummeted, a survey suggests Picture: ROB WATKINS

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Overall business confidence among firms in the East of England has fallen by a fifth in the past month, new figures suggest.

Steve Elsom of Lloyds Bank Picture: BERNARD POUNDSteve Elsom of Lloyds Bank Picture: BERNARD POUND

Lloyds Bank’s Business Barometer for October 2018 shows a net balance of 8% of the region’s firms are now feelng confident after a 20 point fall in the past month, plummeting from 28%.

That compares to a national picture showing a 10 point fall in overall confidence to 19%, its sharpest fall and its lowest level all year, as firms’ optimism about the economy slumped 18 points to just 8%. Nationally, companies’ confidence in their own business prospects fell three points to 29%.

The Business Barometer questions 1,200 firms monthly, detecting UK economic trends regionally and nationwide, with the overall percentage ‘balance’ based on the percentage of firms that are positive in outlook against those that are negative.

Across the region, a net balance of 16% 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 net balance of 26% who thought it was having a positive impact just a month ago.

A net balance of 7% are now pessimistic about the economy, and firms’ confidence is their own business prospects has lowered to 23%

However, the underlying picture – measured by the average over the past three months – shows overall confidence at 19%, down just one point on a month ago and only five points lower than the UK overall.

Steve Elsom, regional director for East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said uncertainty was hitting business confidence. “Business confidence fell sharply this month in the East of England as firms here, and across the UK, lost confidence in the economy overall amid continued uncertainty,” he said. “Firms are finding it hard to plan at the moment, which is affecting sentiment, but we are on hand to help them do so and expect confidence to recover once management teams have greater clarity about the future of the UK’s trading relationships.”

Businesses in London showed the most confidence, at 37%, ahead of the north west (36%) and the west Midlands (23%). Those in the south west were the least confident, with an overall confidence of just 2%.

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