British business confidence hits ‘18-month high’

New research carried out by a leading high street bank suggests that British business confidence hit an 18-month high in May.

According to Lloyds Bank’s latest Business in Britain report, confidence among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in England and Wales has doubled year-on-year.

The lender’s business confidence index, which measures expected sales, orders and profits, rose to 24 per cent in May 2017 – one per cent higher than the bank’s 25-year average of 23 per cent.

The research, which quizzed as many as 1,500 SMEs from all across the country shortly after the General Election was called, found that 66 per cent of businesses feel more confident now than they did at the beginning of the year.

Tim Hinton, of Lloyds Banking Group, said that the majority of businesses surveyed were “anticipating higher sales, increased profits and staffing levels to rise.”

However, he voiced concerns that the overall outlook for the next six months “remains mixed at best.”

Citing figures from the survey, he pointed out that the net balance of companies that experienced difficulties sourcing skilled labour in the past six months hit a ten-year high of 52 per cent – up from a reading of just 31 per cent in January.