1. ITV Report

Confidence in small businesses drops at fastest pace in seven years

Figures from the Federation of Small Businesses show that confidence in small businesses in Wales has fallen at it's fastest pace in over seven years.

Credit: PA

Business confidence in Wales dropped from 22.1 points to 2.1 however the decline was in line with the UK average, however confidence in Welsh businesses remains above the UK figure of -2.5.

Despite it falling to its lowest level in two years, both Wales and the UK saw an increase in business confidence at the start of 2017.

Only slightly more small businesses in Wales reported that they increased employment compared to those who said that they had to let people go. However, two-thirds of firms said that their headcount remained the same.

Looking ahead to the first quarter of 2018, the survey says firms are more cautious about their prospective employment levels in coming months. 2% of Welsh businesses expect to hire more staff, which is in line with the UK-wide average of 2.9%.

Despite a sharp fall in confidence, Welsh businesses remain more optimistic than those elsewhere in the UK and this is to be welcomed.

However, as Brexit negotiations continue, it is clear that UK and Welsh Governments must work together to ensure that businesses in Wales are provided with the certainty that they need to plan for the long-term of their business.

– Janet Jones, FSB Wales Policy Chair