South Lakeland Business Confidence Returns To Pre-Pandemic Levels

Confidence levels among South Lakeland businesses are now back to what they were before the coronavirus pandemic, a wide-ranging survey has found.

More than three quarters of respondents (79 percent) felt very or fairly confident about the next 12 months, an increase of 25 percent from the 2020 survey.

Over half of all responding businesses feel fairly confident about the next 12 months, while one in five are very confident.

The survey was carried out by the Economy and Culture team at South Lakeland District Council between October last year and February this year, with business owners invited to give their views to help shape the council’s economic support strategies and inform its plans and policies.

Councillor Robin Ashcroft, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Culture and Leisure, said: “These findings show once again the strength of our economy and how all businesses here, from the established and internationally significant to small start-ups finding their way, contribute to making South Lakeland the best place to live, work and play.

“The information gathered continues to be vital in informing our continuing work supporting businesses and doing all we possibly can to create the necessary conditions for them to thrive.”

The survey is undertaken annually to provide an up-to-date local assessment of business needs over the next 12 months but takes on even more importance than usual as South Lakeland District Council aims to support economic recovery in the aftermath of the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.

It provides an up-to-date assessment of the supply and demand of business premises in South Lakeland, helps to inform the South Lakeland local planning authorities evidence base about employment needs and is also used to better understand the opportunities and challenges faced by businesses operating in South Lakeland.

Other findings include:

• Almost three quarters of respondents expect the number of people employed at their premises to stay the same over the next year. One in six businesses expect their employee numbers to slightly increase, while there are 11 businesses that expect their numbers to increase significantly.

• Of the 1,119 responding businesses, 19 per cent (208 businesses) indicated that they would expect their premises needs to change in the next three years. The majority expect to increase in size by means of expanding their existing premises or moving to a larger site.

• A quarter of businesses identify staff retention and recruitment as obstacles which prevent their business growing.

The response rate was 28 per cent (1,119 responses), which is the second highest rate since the survey began in 2014