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South West business confidence hits low amid concerns over prospects

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Adam RaineyAdam RaineySouth West business confidence fell six points during February to one percent, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in the South West’s confidence in their business prospects slid six points to 14 per cent. When combined with their views on the economy overall, this gives an overall confidence figure of one percent.

Businesses’ hiring intentions showed that a net balance of one percent of businesses in the region now expect to hire more staff during the next year, down six points on last month.

At national level, overall confidence fell 15 points to just four percent as both firms’ optimism about the economy and their confidence in their own prospects slumped.

Across the UK, firms’ confidence in their own trading prospects fell 14 points to 13 percent while economic confidence fell by 15 points to minus five percent.

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

Adam Rainey, regional director for the South West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “South West firms’ expectations about their own business activity is showing signs of resilience, when compared with the month’s national average.

“As before, firms are responding to signs of dampening optimism by putting plans in place to navigate ongoing uncertainty.

“We will continue to be by their side as they put those plans into action and have recently pledged £1.5bn to businesses in the region to help them prosper in 2019 and beyond.”

Across the region, a net balance of 29 percent 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, up 12 points on a month ago.

The survey was conducted with 1,200 companies – including 85 businesses in the South West - between February 1 and 15.