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South East business confidence declines in Q4

By Stephen Emerson
21 January 2022

Business confidence in the South East declined for the final quarter of 2021.

A survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that confidence was neutral compared to post-lockdown highs of +27% in the second quarter of 2021 and +12% in quarter three.

The drop, says the FSB, is attributed to the economic uncertainty prior to Christmas over the rise of the Omicron variant.

The net balance of firms planning to increase investment stands at +10%, nearly half the national average of +19%, the lowest net figure in the country.

The FSB says despite this disparity, more firms intend to increase their investment when compared to the national average, with 26% in the South East planning investment compared to 22% nationally.

Deborah Turner, South East policy chair for the FSB, said: "The results are disappointing as it reflects a decrease in business confidence when businesses should have seen a Christmas boost. It makes for a grim picture when firms factor in the future national insurance increase, plus inflationary pressures on business costs.

"These findings make it necessary for the government to cancel its proposed national insurance tax increase and to consider widening relief to small businesses. Whilst small businesses plan to expand and employ more staff, these positive developments threaten to be derailed by an April tax grab that our economy can ill afford."