By Andrew Redmond Barr
An independent publication has revealed that business confidence in Scotland is the highest in the UK.
The report from the Grant Thornton Business Confidence Monitor stated that: “Confidence among Scottish firms is higher this quarter than in any other part of the UK.
“This continues an upward trend which began at the end of 2011, and optimism in Scotland now stands at its highest level since Q3 2011.”
The Scottish National Party welcomed the findings, saying Scotland’s economy had proven strong enough to stave off the worst of the recession and UK austerity measures.
Commenting on the report, SNP MSP Chic Brodie said:
“It is fantastic news that confidence is high with Scotland’s businesses. The difficulties imposed by the Westminster Government’s austerity cuts are as real as they are harsh, but Scotland’s resilience is second to none.
“Scotland continues to be the most attractive place in the UK to do business and the debate over independence is having no effect on our economy.
“The evidence clearly shows that Scotland has the talent, the natural resources and the perfect location to build a strong and prosperous economy. The anti-independence parties must renounce their negativity and join the positive debate on Scotland’s future.
“With the full economic and financial powers of independence we could do even more to raise Scotland’s competitiveness and drive forward economic recovery.”
Meanwhile the UK construction industry has declined at an unexpected rate, putting the British Government’s recovery plan into question. New orders in the UK construction industry fell last month at the fastest rate since the peak of the 2008 financial crisis.
Many economics had expected some recovery or at least a smaller rate of decline. The news from the Markit/CIPS construction Purchasing Managers Index has cast doubts over any optimistic forecasts for UK economic recovery. The index dropped to 49.0 in August from 50.9 in July. A figure below 50 indicates the sector is shrinking.
“There is little evidence to suggest an imminent rebound in output levels,” said Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit.
New figures have also revealed UK retail sales were damaged in the month of August due to the London Olympics.
According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) retail sales fell 0.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis from the same month in 2011. August has been the second weakest economic month since November.
“There’s no evidence here of any Olympic boost to retail sales overall,” said BRC director general Stephen Robertson.
“Hot weather and the Olympics did help sales of party food and drink but that was more than offset by a really weak performance for non-food goods.”
Meanwhile the Edinburgh Fringe listed a record 2,695 shows this year, which generates an average of £140 million for the capital and £250 million annually for the Scottish economy as a whole.