Thursday 01st October 2020
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Slight improvement in confidence but job losses loom

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Business confidence in the East of England improved slightly in August although most firms continued to see demand fall and some expect to make redundancies when the furlough scheme ends in October, according to a business barometer from Lloyds Bank.

Firms’ confidence in their own business prospects was -25%, compared with -31% in July and overall confidence in the region rose four points to -22% although this was among the lowest seen in the UK. Covid-19 continued to take its toll and over two thirds of firms saw a fall in demand for their products and services although this was down on the month before. Just 4 per cent saw a rise in demand. Most firms said they could, in theory, operate at full capacity while remaining Covid-secure but more than a quarter couldn’t operate fully within the rules. Of the firms seeing disruption to their supply chain during August, most expect the situation to improve within six months.

David Atkinson, regional director for the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “A slight easing of pessimism is a step in the right direction. The improvement has no doubt been supported by the region’s tourism and hospitality businesses being bolstered by VAT cuts and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. But it’s clear that many are still grappling with difficult trading conditions.”