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The Analysis News & Opinions


Regional economic differences revealed in latest surveys


Commercial credit professionals have been given mixed messages on the future of the UK economy, suggesting a regional variance – with Scotland falling behind. Research by R3 found that the level of


business distress in the UK has hit a new record low, with just 17% of businesses reporting a key indicator of distress. This represents a sizable fall in the level of distress from the last survey in September (28%) and replaces the previous record low of 24% from April 2015. When the survey began in March 2012, 64% of businesses were reporting indicators of distress. Several of the individual indicators of


distress also reported new record lows: regularly using maximum overdraft (6%), fallen market share (5%) and decreased sales volumes (10%). Decreased profits (12%) and


having to make redundancies (4%) were both within two percentage points of their record lows. However, Scottish small business


confidence has fallen to its lowest level since the start of 2013, according to the latest quarterly report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). The study, conducted in the final three


months of 2015, shows a widening gap between Scottish business


growth


expectations and the UK average. The FSB’s confidence index now stands at


+0.3 points, down from +4.6 points at the same time last year, and markedly below the UK figure which stands at +21.7 points. Though the weakest reading since the start of 2013, it suggests that Scottish small businesses expect the trading environment


to remain about the same, rather than improving or getting worse. FSB’s Scottish policy convenor Andy


Willox said: “The creeping gap between Scottish small business confidence and the UK average is a cause for concern. “Many analysts have highlighted the


impact of the falling price of crude on Scotland’s oil and gas industry. “As you might expect, this price decline


looks to be having an impact on the local economies which are dependent upon this trade.”


STILL INDEPENDENT, STILL IMPARTIAL


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