North Sea oil rig

The downturn in the Scottish economy appears to be getting worse, two separate surveys have suggested.

The Bank of Scotland and business advisers BDO have both published the results of their surveys, painting a gloomy picture of Scotland’s economy.

Purchasing managers reported “harsher business conditions” as output and new business orders in the private sector declined in March, the Bank of Scotland’s survey showed. The purchasing managers index (PMI) score fell from 49.2 to 48.5. Any figure below 50 indicates a contraction. And the BDO’s survey showed that a slowing services sector was “knocking the confidence” of businesses and the economy.

Bank of Scotland regional managing director for Scotland Alasdair Gardner, said: “Scotland’s private sector experienced harsher business conditions during March, as the current downturn intensified.

“Moreover, the struggles endured in the economy’s oil and gas industry continued to take its toll on output and new order levels, which both contracted.

“As a result, job shedding is evident for the fourth successive month as firms looked to cut back on production costs.”

The BDO’s output index fell for a fifth straight month from 101.7 to 101.3 in March, with its optimism index fell to its lowest level in two years.

Martin Gill, head of BDO in Scotland, said: “These figures show that political and economic uncertainty is affecting optimism among Scotland’s businesses.

“The EU referendum, the continued difficulties faced by the oil and gas sector, and the economic difficulties being faced in the eurozone and China are all contributing to a mood of insecurity which is hitting investment and growth plans.”