Oil and referendum jitters holding back confidence

Depressed oil prices and concerns over a second independence referendum are holding back business confidence in Scotland, according to a survey by Business Growth Fund (BGF).

Simon Munro: Business wants quick EU referendum decision. Picture: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media

The fund’s study found 85 per cent of senior figures north of the Border believed that another vote on separating from the UK would be bad for business, while 82 per cent said the UK’s membership of the European Union was positive.

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Two-thirds of Scottish respondents said that conditions for growth would improve in the coming quarter, lagging behind the 76 per cent figure for the UK as a whole. The state of the economy was cited as the biggest worry for entrepreneurs in Scotland, with 22 per cent citing macro-economic factors – such as the price of oil – as their main concern, compared with a UK-wide reading of 15 per cent.

Simon Munro, the BGF’s regional director for Scotland, said: “Rather than withdrawing, many businesses appear to be acting more robustly by looking for ways to adjust to the low oil prices. Businesses want a quick and decisive outcome from Britain’s EU referendum to remove uncertainty – and they don’t want a second independence referendum adding to uncertainty in Scotland.”