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Nick Hill

Business confidence in Yorkshire falls lower than national average, claims new Business Barometer report

Business confidence in Yorkshire and the Humber has been reported as below the national average in January, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Yorkshire-based companies report business prospects to be around the national average at 39%, but lower economic optimism at 22%.

Together, this gives the region an overall confidence of 31%, which is below the average across the UK of 35%.

Across Yorkshire, a net balance of 12% of businesses feel that the UK’s exit from the European Union is having a negative impact on their expectations for business activity.

The Business Barometer provides early signals about UK economic trends and has been run monthly since January 2002. This is the first time that the survey, which questioned 1,200 businesses, has been carried out on a regional as well as national basis.

Steve Harris, regional director for Yorkshire at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It’s disappointing to see that firms are less optimistic than the UK as a whole. The sentiment felt by Yorkshire businesses contrasts neighbours in the North West, which is one of the most optimistic regions with big employment prospects.

“While firms have a pessimistic outlook to the economy and Brexit, they still seem relatively confident with their expectations to increase business activity.”

Yorkshire businesses’ economic optimism of 22% is nine points lower than the national average of 31%.

Companies’ hiring intentions show that a net balance of 21% of businesses in the region expect to hire more staff during the next year, while firms expect a median annual increase in average pay in the region of 1 to 2% during 2018.

Overall confidence is the highest among businesses in London and the North West, both at 47%, followed by the West Midlands at 45%.

Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Although business prospects have softened from last month’s high, overall UK business confidence has started the year on a strong footing.

“The sharp increase in economic optimism signals that downside risks have eased and the economy is likely to continue to expand in Q1 this year.”

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