A recent Lloyds Bank Business Barometer report found business confidence had increased across eleven out of twelve of the UK regions and countries. The region with firms possessing the highest confidence is the North East with an increase of 25 percentage points to 26%, West Midlands was up 24 points to 27% and the North West up 13 points to 26%.
The net total of the UK’s business confidence increased 13 percentage points to 15% in March resulting in the highest levels recorded since pre-pandemic around 12 months ago.
Just over a quarter of companies were expecting to increase their workforce, in total 26% which is an increase of 2% from last month. Whereas 22% of companies expect to decrease their workforce which is down 6% from last month.
Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, commented on the report saying:
“It’s been a year since the first lockdown and the surge in confidence this month tells us firms are increasingly confident about economic recovery. The broadly positive outlook is driven by steady vaccine deployment, the roadmap out of lockdown and the extension of government support measures. It will be interesting to see whether the momentum for stronger business optimism is sustained in the months ahead.”
Paul Gordon, Managing Director for SME and Mid Corporates, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, added:
“We have completed a full circle since lockdown began in March 2020 and it is uplifting to see businesses portraying confidence for the months ahead. The regions have reported a tremendous result in confidence, especially England which is positive across the board. In the sectors, the uptick in confidence for manufacturing is driven by strong trading prospects, while in retail, there is an anticipation that pent-up demand will drive consumption when restrictions are lifted. The months ahead will play a pivotal role in charting the course for the UK’s recovery and we remain by the side of businesses as they go along on this journey.”