Business leaders throughout the south east recorded the lowest level of optimism since 2012 in the third quarter, new figures reveal.
The Business Confidence Monitor, undertaken by the chartered accountancy organisation ICAEW, found confidence in the region now stands at -11.4 compared to +26.4 a year ago.
On this measure, a score of +100 would indicate all survey respondents were ‘much more confident’ about future prospects, while -100 would mean all respondents felt ‘much less confident’.
Andrea Dunhill, ICAEW Regional Director for the South East, noted the decline had set in long before the referendum vote.
She said: “This is the first negative reading in four years. However, the sustained nature of the decline in confidence indicates that businesses have been concerned about economic conditions for some time, and this is not just a Brexit-related shock.
“Businesses in the south east are resilient and after the political surprise of the referendum result, many are getting on with delivering their business plans and moving forward.
“It is vital that leading businesses continue to work with the Government and promote the region, highlighting the many benefits of doing business in the south east.”