South West England bucks UK trend with resurgent business confidence

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Firms around the South West of England – including many taking advantage of TS Partners’ expertise in accounting in Newton Abbot – seem to be remaining confident as the summer of 2023 wears on, even if there are plenty of other businesses across the UK that are not so upbeat.

This was what emerged from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking’s most recent Business Barometer, which found that during July, business confidence in the South West actually went up by five points, to 34%. This contrasts with the situation for business confidence in the UK as a whole, for which a six-point decline was reported, to 31%.

Indeed, as reported by Business Leader, nine out of the 11 UK nations and regions that were included in the research showed a lower month-on-month business confidence reading. It is further evidence that, as we recently reported here at TS Partners, firms up and down the country are getting the jitters once more about a possible looming recession.

So, what else did the Lloyds Business Barometer tell us about the situation for surprisingly positive-minded South West England companies during July?

Firms are more confident about their own prospects than they are about the UK’s

Some 1,200 businesses are quizzed each month in order to put together the data for the survey. And in the case of the South West England firms that were surveyed, confidence in their own business prospects was higher in July than it had been the previous month, at 47% – a 13-point rise.

When those firms around the region were asked how confident they were in the broader economy, however, the reading was just 20%, a three-point decline compared to June. Taken together, the 47% and 20% figures equated to a headline confidence score of 34%.

On a UK-wide basis, the polled firms reported an even bigger drop in their optimism about the economy than those in the South West showed, with an 11-point fall bringing this particular reading to 21% overall – the lowest levels since February.

Companies across the UK, though, did seem to be adopting a positive slant on their own business prospects. 43% of the organisations surveyed said that they anticipated higher business activity over the coming 12 months, which was a one-point improvement on June’s reading, and the highest score for that metric in 14 months.

So, what are South West firms’ top target areas for growth over the next six months?

When businesses around the region were asked about this subject, 35% cited investment in sustainability, while 32% referred to investing in their teams. Three in 10 (30%) respondents, meanwhile, mentioned that they would look to evolve their product or service offering.

Furthermore, a net balance of 38% of the region’s companies said that they expected to heighten their staffing levels over the coming year. This was a 25-point increase on the previous month’s reading.

Hopefully, such relative optimism will have been seen within your own organisation, whether or not you are based in South West England.

And if you are indeed operating from this part of the UK, the TS Partners team can be on hand to assist with your accounting in Newton Abbot, in order to relieve some of your day-to-day pressures and put your firm in a better position to go for growth.