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By Fiona Reid
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Businesses express confidence

SOUTH of Scotland businesses remain confident for the year ahead, despite the ongoing economic challenges facing the region.

That was the findings of a new survey by the South of Scotland Business Panel.

Almost four in five businesses and social enterprises who took part were optimistic for their own prospects in the next 12 months.

Over 600 businesses across the South were interviewed, tracking business confidence, performance and their approach to various key themes such as workforce, new technologies and Net Zero.

It was carried out in February and March against the backdrop of increased inflation, interest rates, record fuel prices and the start of the war in Ukraine.

Accordingly, businesses and social enterprises were less confident in the economy than they were in autumn 2021.

In addition, almost all were concerned about rising costs, particularly fuel and energy – with about half increasing their prices as a result.

However, there were signs of covid recovery, with two-thirds operating at or above pre-pandemic levels.

The survey also found 71 per cent of businesses were already using or planning to use new technologies, with low carbon the most common. Cost of introducing new technology was the main barrier.

Most were experiencing workforce related challenges, in particular the tourism sector, primarily caused by lack of candidates and difficulties accessing specific skillsets.

Over 70 per cent were taking action to help them move to low carbon working and 84 per cent were taking or planning to take action to improve energy efficiency.

Jane Morrison-Ross, chief executive of SOSE, described it as a ‘vital piece of work’ and said: “Despite the challenges, the survey indicates high levels of optimism amongst our business community, which is testament to their resilience and determination.”

n The full report is available at www.southofscotlandenterprise.com/business-surveys.

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