SME confidence soars to three-year high

Business confidence among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) soared to a three-year high in the first three months of 2018, a new study has revealed.

According to the latest SME Confidence Tracker from funding group Bibby Financial Services, confidence among small businesses rose by six basis points between the final quarter (Q4) of 2017 and the first quarter (Q1) of 2018.

SME confidence rose from 58 to 64 – the highest reading on record since the second quarter (Q2) of 2015, the report reveals.

However, despite this notable increase in confidence, the tracker found that many small businesses are grappling with a number of problems which they believe are hindering their growth.

For example, 27 per cent of SME respondents told the survey that they were having problems recruiting new skilled workers, while a further 23 per cent said that they had been forced to increase wages for existing members of staff in order to retain talent.

Furthermore, almost half (43 per cent) of businesses said that they were currently holding back on investment due to political and economic uncertainties.

Nevertheless, overall business confidence appears to remain strong, as evidenced by other recent pieces of research such as commercial property group Citibase’s latest Business Confidence Index, which found that 50 per cent of SMEs are feeling confident about Britain’s short-term future despite the obvious challenges ahead.