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Surveys reveal patchy performance

Scots confidence softens but remains positive

BT call centre staffFurther evidence has emerged of softening business confidence in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK, although it is said to be positive overall.

The Bank of Scotland Business in Britain report says business confidence in Scotland fell slightly in the last six months, based on data gathered after the snap election was called.

The report, now in its 25th year, gathers the views of more than 1,500 UK companies, predominantly small to medium sized businesses.

The confidence index – an average of respondents’ expected sales, orders and profits over the next six months – fell slightly to 19%, from January’s score of 21%.

Fraser Sime, regional area director for SME, Bank of Scotland said: “Overall confidence in Scotland has decreased slightly since our last survey in January but remains positive. 

“The fact that it remains only slightly lower than at the start of the year, despite the political uncertainty from a snap election, is a positive sign for underlying confidence in the region and is testament to the resilience of Scotland’s business owners.”

Confidence in England and Wales has increased by 10 points to 24%. This may support the findings of another survey from the Centre for Economics and Business Research and  Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks owner CYBG which suggests that SME business confidence across the UK “rose markedly” in the first quarter.

However, its SME Health Check Index says the health of UK small firms has fallen to its lowest level in three years. It measures business performance and the macroeconomic environment affecting SMEs, including bankruptcies, business costs, capacity, confidence, employment, gross domestic product, lending and revenue.

David Duffy, CEO at CYBG, said: “Small and medium-sized businesses are the absolute engine room of the British economy, and their future prospects are going to be ever more critical in a post-Brexit world, where we are dependent on a stronger and more competitive domestic economy.

“This research clearly indicates SMEs are facing challenges.”

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