Fraser of Allander poll

Confidence wanes in EU trade and Covid support

lorries queuing

The sight of lorries queuing may have dimmed confidence in the Brexit deal

Scottish business confidence has weakened in how the Brexit transition has been handled and in government support for companies suffering through the pandemic lockdown.

More than half of Scottish businesses which trade with the EU say they have suffered a worsening experience in the last quarter which spans the UK’s exit from trading agreements.

A survey by the Fraser of Allander Institute reveals that 57% of those selling or importing from the bloc have seen a negative impact on their business with only 1% reporting an improvement.

The poll also showed weaker confidence in the UK and Scottish governments’ understanding of the challenges that businesses face from the pandemic and the support they need.

More than a third (38%) of businesses say the level of government support has been sufficient or very sufficient, while 40% of businesses say it has been insufficient or very insufficient.

More than half of all applicants to the Strategic Framework Business Fund, overseen by local authorities, said that the level of support was insufficient.

However, the survey of more than 500 firms, which is supported by Addleshaw Goddard, indicated that Scottish businesses are more optimistic for the future now, compared to the end of 2020.

Mairi Spowage, acting director at the Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “The Scottish economy is still in the midst of a crisis, with large amounts of uncertainty in the outlook.

“This survey marks a year of negative sentiment in the Scottish business base, the first time we have seen that since the financial crisis. However, optimism has improved since late 2020.

“Changes in the way many sectors are working will have long term implications for the Scottish economy. Many businesses are concerned that home working is impacting negatively on staff management and productivity.”

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