Scottish firms most optimistic in UK after further jump in confidence

Scottish businesses are now the most optimistic in the UK after a sharp rise in confidence this month, according to a Bank of Scotland study.

Business confidence jumped 27 points during June to 42 per cent, the latest Business Barometer from the Lloyds-owned bank reveals. This is the sharpest rise in overall confidence this year and means Scotland has the highest levels of optimism anywhere in the UK.

The Business Barometer samples the opinions of some 1,200 businesses across the UK monthly and provides early signals about economic trends both regionally and nationwide.

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Companies in Scotland reported higher confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, up 32 points at 42 per cent. When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, up 24 points to 43 per cent, this gives a headline confidence reading of 42 per cent.

The Bank of Scotland Business Barometer looked at Scotland while a wider survey by parent group Lloyds examined the UK as a whole. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
The Bank of Scotland Business Barometer looked at Scotland while a wider survey by parent group Lloyds examined the UK as a whole. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Overall UK business confidence remained steady month-on-month at 33 per cent.

Fraser Sime, regional director for Scotland at Bank of Scotland commercial banking, said: “Business confidence in Scotland rose again in June as firms across the country slowly but surely returned to normal trading. It is also positive to see that more firms are now planning to hire new staff this year – another clear indicator that the country is on the path to recovery.

“Despite this, the well-trailed postponement to the easing of lockdown restrictions will have dampened spirits, especially for those in the country’s tourism and hospitality sector and is another sign that we are not out of the woods yet.

“We’ll continue to stand by Scottish business and support firms through the coming months as we look to build back better,” he added.

Across the UK, all regions and nations reported positive confidence readings for the third consecutive month. Businesses in Scotland, London (up 17 points to 41 per cent) and the east of England (up ten points to 36 per cent) reported the highest increases in confidence.

While confidence remained positive, firms in eight regions reported a month-on-month drop. The biggest decreases were in Yorkshire and Humber (down 14 points to 30 per cent), the West Midlands (down 12 points to 29 per cent), the north west of England (down nine points to 29 per cent) and East Midlands (down nine points to 31 per cent).

The majority of responses were given before the various governments formally announced the delay to the removal of all limits on social contact.

Paul Gordon, managing director for SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) and mid corporates, Lloyds Bank commercial banking, said: “Despite a fall in business confidence in eight of the UK’s nations and regions from the highs of last month, the differences are narrowing.

“It’s pleasing to see such significant improvements in a number of regions, in particular Scotland and London, with both reporting strong increases in confidence.

“We can be optimistic that the increase in confidence in the services sector, as well as the overall historically high levels across the broad industry sectors, bodes well for businesses as we remain by their side on their road to recovery.”

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