Business confidence at two-year high since Brexit vote

(2 minutes to read)

Business confidence edges to a two-year high since the Brexit vote, as investment and hiring intentions remain broadly steady.

A recent business survey from Lloyds Bank has revealed that the confidence index remains above the long-term average, as firms are more confident than at any point since the EU Referendum vote in June 2016.

The Business in Britain report, now in its 26th year, gathers the views of over 1,500 UK companies, predominantly small to medium sized, and tracks a range of performance and confidence measures, weighing up the percentage of firms that are positive in outlook against those that are negative.

Interestingly, business confidence was the highest in the transport & communications and construction sectors with the construction sector registering a significant rise compared with January’s survey, rising 12 points to 26%.

Most regions saw a rise in business confidence, with it being the strongest in London (31%) and the South East (30%).

However, despite confidence being high, Brexit uncertainty remains the single greatest risk to firms in the next six months, cited by 21%, closely followed by weaker UK demand at 16%.

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Over a third (36%) of businesses expect a negative impact on their business if no trade agreement is reached with the EU. A fifth (20%) expect a positive impact while almost half (44%) do not expect any impact or didn’t know.

Sharon Geoghegan, Managing Director, SME Banking, Lloyds Banking Group, explained, “Despite concerns on the wider economy, businesses are still relatively upbeat as our latest report shows business confidence hitting a two-year high since the Brexit vote. England’s success in the World Cup will also boost the nation’s feel-good factor.

“As we look ahead, the external environment remains mixed as Brexit uncertainty and weaker UK demand are businesses’ biggest concerns for the next six months. Despite those risks and rising global trade tensions, business investment and hiring intentions remain at similar levels to the start of the year.”

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