Business confidence in South West England back on the up, but not across the UK as a whole

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Given that so many individuals and organisations consistently turn to our team here at TS Partners in search of accountancy in Devon or Somerset, you can probably imagine that we pay close attention to business developments in the part of England where we are based.

Sure enough, there is positive news on that front, according to Business Leader, which reported that business confidence in the South West actually went up by nine points during November, which brought it to 5% overall. This made it the first positive reading in the current quarter.

That statistic comes from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking’s most recent Business Barometer, for which firms were surveyed between the 1st and 15th of November, ahead of Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt announcing his Autumn Statement on the 17th.

The region’s companies seem bullish about their prospects in the months to come

Bearing in mind how bleak much of the UK economic prognosis has seemed during 2022, it is heartening for our accountants and experts at TS Partners to read that firms in our region reported higher confidence in their own business prospects on a month-by-month basis, according to the latest barometer. This particular score increased by 10 points to 19%.

Those same businesses also indicated they were optimistic about the economy, that measure seeing a nine-point rise to -9%. It translates into a headline confidence reading of 5% for South West England businesses in November.

When companies in our part of the country were also asked what their top target areas for growth were with the coming six months in mind, 37% cited investing in their teams, and 36% said they were looking to evolve their product or service offerings. A quarter – 25% – indicated that they planned to invest in sustainability.

A net balance of 11% of the region’s businesses also anticipated that the next year would see them bolster their staffing levels; this reading was four points higher than last month’s and was the highest reading seen since August.

Firms elsewhere in the UK show declining confidence – but there remains reason for hope

Contrasting with the situation in the South West specifically, overall levels of business confidence across the UK declined during November, by five points. It is important to note, however, that this still meant a positive overall reading of 10%.

There was a two-point decrease compared to the month before when UK firms were asked what their outlook was on their future trading prospects, which brought this measure down to 25%. And their optimism in the broader UK economy was down too, by four points to -2%.

UK firms were still positive, though, about their plans to hire when quizzed on this in November, with 14% indicating that they were aiming to create new jobs during the coming year.

In fact, a positive confidence reading was recorded for all UK nations and regions in November, with the exception of the South East. Of those parts of the country that recorded a higher confidence level, the South West (with its nine-point rise to 5%) saw the third-largest monthly change, behind only Scotland (up 19 points to 24%) and Wales (up 12 points to 17%).

We can help you press on with confidence as 2022 becomes 2023

The above findings certainly provide more reason for optimism than some of the news headlines or survey results that we have seen from business owners in recent times. However, that should not cause you to underestimate the considerable economic challenges that will await in 2023 and for a much longer time to come.

To discuss with us how our own accountancy in Devon or Somerset could place your business in an even stronger position to succeed in the coming year or so – wherever you are in the UK – please do not wait any longer to get in touch with the TS Partners team.