Business confidence in Yorkshire soars to highest level in UK

Business confidence in Yorkshire soared to the highest level in the UK during May, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

There are encouraging signs that business confidence in cities like Sheffield is continuing to rise
There are encouraging signs that business confidence in cities like Sheffield is continuing to rise

The percentage of companies in Yorkshire reporting higher confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month was up by 10 points at 39%. When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, which was up by 16 points to 50%, this gives a headline confidence reading of 44%, which is the highest level since November 2018.

The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.

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When it comes to jobs, a net balance of 33% of businesses in the region expect to increase staff levels over the next year, up significantly by 28 points on last month.

Overall UK business confidence rose four points in May to 33%, a fourth consecutive month of growth. The reading comes after non-essential retail and hospitality firms reopened their doors to customers. Businesses reported an increase in optimism about their own trading prospects.

Steve Harris, regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Despite a difficult and challenging year of lockdown restrictions, Yorkshire’s businesses have remained resilient, and their efforts are now paying dividends as they report the highest confidence levels in the UK.

“The success of the region’s firms reopening – especially the hospitality sector – also appears to have provided the springboard to create jobs, which should set the economy up for success. We will remain by the side of businesses in the region as they settle into the new normal and navigate the road ahead.”

Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “A fourth consecutive monthly increase in business confidence, and the highest in three years, leaves us hopeful for the UK’s economic recovery. The increase in confidence was buoyed by a further easing of lockdown restrictions and a rise in optimism about the wider economy.

“While we need to wait and see how the months ahead will unfold, the recent rise in positive outlook is an encouraging sign that firms are emerging from the COVID-19 crisis with renewed resilience and vigour.”