Business confidence among South West England firms fell, but remained above the national average in May

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No doubt that for many of our blog readers, the various business surveys, indexes, and barometers will be key topics of reading and conversation, as business owners around the UK assess the prospects for their firms – and the national economy as a whole – over the months ahead.

So, the recently released Lloyds Bank Business Barometer for May 2023 may give you some considerable “food for thought”.

And there was mixed news from that particular barometer this time around, with it being revealed that business confidence among 1,200 polled UK companies fell by five points during May, to 28%. This represented the first decline in three months.

The figures did, though, provide reason for firms up and down the country to be encouraged, given that confidence levels were still well above last November’s low of 10%, in addition to being in line with the Barometer’s long-term average.

The latest data presents a mixed picture – but far from a horrendous one – for UK firms

One cannot, of course, ignore that great numbers of businesses up and down the country are still facing seriously daunting challenges as they seek to both survive and thrive.

That is certainly something we have observed in our own experience here at TS Partners, in our capacity as go-to experts on such matters as payroll, business tax, and limited-company startup accounts in Newton Abbot & Wellington.

Nonetheless, the key statistics that emerged from the latest Lloyds Bank Business Barometer were not as gloomy as many firms might have been expecting the situation to be by the spring of 2023, given that as recently as the winter of 2022, there was much talk of looming recession in the UK.

Yes, the aforementioned fall in UK business confidence was the first seen since February, and firms were more negative this time around when asked about both their own trading prospects, and the outlook for the wider economy.

The questioned firms’ assessment of strong trading prospects for the coming 12 months dropped from 55% in April to 49% last month, which was the second consecutive month of falls for that particular measure. It was, however, still a long way above the 27% reading seen as recently as January.

Looking at the research participants’ attitudes on the UK’s overall economy, meanwhile, this was also subject to a fall, by six points to 22%. Just a shade less than half (48%) of the companies quizzed were more positive (compared to 53% the previous month), while 26% were more negative (up from 25%).

Lloyds did, however, suggest that the decline seen during May might be down to firms having already taken into account the more heartening economic news of recent months, thereby making further rises in confidence relatively unlikely.

So, what was the situation for business confidence in the South West, specifically?

If your firm is among the many in South West England receiving the benefit of TS Partners’ knowhow on such subjects as tax relief, financial planning, and limited-company startup accounts in Newton Abbot & Wellington, you may be especially interested in reading about the regional differences that emerged from Lloyds’ latest Barometer.

And it turned out that the UK’s regions and nations had much in common in this regard, with 11 of the 12 covered by the research seeing falls in confidence. The South East was the only region to record higher levels of confidence, at 30%, up from the previous month’s 11%.

Across the other parts of the UK, London recorded the highest overall confidence levels, at 43%, followed by the North East (35%) and the South West (30%). This meant that business confidence levels in our own home region here at TS Partners were still above the national average in May.

All in all, then, it seems that there is still much reason for firms up and down the country to be optimistic about the months ahead, even if expectations have mellowed lately.

To learn more about the solutions our own business can provide to help your company survive and succeed over the course of 2023 and future years, please don’t wait any longer to enquire to your nearest TS Partners office.