Business confidence rises in the south east

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BUSINESS confidence has risen in the south east into 2017, up five percentage points since September, according to the latest figures from Lloyds Bank.

The confidence index in the Business in Britain report – an average of respondents’ expected sales, orders and profits over the next six months – has risen to 15 per cent, up from 10 per cent, the score in September.

The south east is feeling optimistic compared with both London and the Midlands, but remains behind the east of England in terms of confidence.

The most commonly-identified threat cited by south eastern firms in the next six months was economic uncertainty (30 per cent), followed by weaker UK demand (16 per cent) as firms wait for further details of Britain’s EU exit.

Companies also cited political uncertainty (nine per cent), input costs (six per cent), access to skills (six per cent) and regulation (five per cent) among the biggest threats.

Ian Patterson, regional director SME banking, said: ‘It’s encouraging to see business confidence increasing in the south east. As we start the new year, firms are concerned about economic uncertainty but are optimistic and ready to take on new challenges.’