Business confidence in Yorkshire increased in the first six months of 2017 rising ahead of London and the Midlands, according to new research.
The confidence index, compiled by Lloyds Bank, is an average of respondents’ expected sales, orders and profits over the next six months and in Yorkshire the figure increased to 23 per cent, up from January’s score of 17 per cent.
Despite the rise, confidence remained slightly lower than its score following the EU referendum vote in June 2016.
The number of Yorkshire firms naming political uncertainty as a potential threat fell to 11 per cent from 18 per cent in January and the portion of business citing weaker UK demand rose to 19 per cent from nine per cent at the start of the year.
A total of 48 per cent of Yorkshire firms said that they had experienced difficulty in recruiting skilled labour in the last six months, a steep rise when compared with the January 2017 total of 30 per cent.
The number of firms expecting average pay to rise in the next six months fell to 12 per cent from 16 per cent suggesting companies are taking a cautious approach to hiring and pay.
Leigh Taylor, regional area director for SME Lloyds Banking Group, said:
"Overall confidence in Yorkshire has increased since our last survey in January, but remains lower than that seen in our report last September.
"Despite this, the fact that confidence is rising in the current climate is a positive sign for the region."
Yorkshire appears to be more optimistic than London, the East Midlands and West Midlands, but falls behind the North East and North West in terms of confidence.
He added: "Despite hurdles in recruiting both skilled and unskilled labour, Yorkshire businesses also anticipate sales, profits, and staffing levels to rise.
“The outlook for the external environment remains mixed, with details of Britain’s exit from the EU still to come but businesses have been working within those parameters for a while now.
"For the moment, Yorkshire businesses are taking this in their stride until there is a clearer sense of what it will mean for them in the short and medium term."