Belfast Telegraph

Uncertainty fears as firms seek government clarification on Brexit

Economic uncertainty remains the biggest threat to businesses as firms wait for information from the Government about leaving the European Union, a study reveals.

Research among 1,500 small to medium sized companies showed that one in five expect to increase prices in the next six months, while most were not planning to take on more staff.

Manufacturers reported a big rise in business confidence, largely as a result of the weaker exchange rates, the Lloyds Banking Group report said.

Confidence was highest in the North East, Scotland and the east of England, and weakest in the West and East Midlands.

Tim Hinton of Lloyds Banking Group said: "Business confidence definitely dipped a bit following the EU referendum result but it has picked up again in the last few months, though still below the long-term average.

"Confidence remains well above the lows of the financial crisis, driven by demand both in the UK and abroad. The banking sector also has a much stronger capital position to withstand any shocks than in 2008/09 which should give businesses more confidence that their growth ambitions can be supported in the year ahead.

"We should expect more twists and turns in 2017 but in the meantime business owners are resilient and continuing to do what they do best - getting on with growing their businesses while keeping an eye on the external risks."