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Business confidence falls, but South West remain among most confident in UK

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David BeaumontDavid BeaumontBusiness confidence in the South West of England fell 18 points during August to 11 percent, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in the South West reported lower confidence in their business prospects, which fell 20 points to 22 percent, and lower economic optimism, down 16 points to zero percent. Together, this gives an overall confidence of 11 percent.

Despite overall confidence falling from last month, the South West is the second most confident region in the UK, after the West Midlands, which has a reading of 15 percent.

Businesses’ hiring intentions showed that a net balance of 14 percent of businesses in the region expect to hire more staff during the next year. Despite this being down 10 points on last month, firms in the region have the second highest hiring intentions in the UK.

Across the UK, overall confidence slipped to one percent, as businesses became less optimistic towards the economic outlook, while confidence in their own prospects fell to eight percent.

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

David Beaumont regional director for the South West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Although overall confidence has decreased from the picture we saw in July’s Business Barometer, the South West still remains a strong and resilient UK region.

"Firms here have outshone most of the country on hiring plans and confidence in their own business prospects. We are here by the side of businesses as they continue to strive for success, bolstering both the local and national economy.

“It is especially encouraging to see that management teams continue to look ahead and make plans for 2020. We have pledged to lend £1.5 billion to local businesses to support investment in their future growth plans.”

Across the region, a net balance of 12 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 four points on a month ago.