By Daniel Hunter

London business confidence is at an all-time high, according to a survey by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).

The LCCI’s survey revealed that London’s businesses are feeling more confident about the future than ever before – with two thirds (66%) expecting their turnover to increase over the coming year.

Only 4% thought their fortunes would decline. This is the highest level of optimism that the survey has ever shown in its 25 years.

Those surveyed in LCCI’s Quarterly Economic Survey were even more optimistic about the country’s prospects with over three quarters (77%) expecting the UK’s economic growth to improve over the next year.

Having declined in the last quarter’s survey, the export market is also picking up with a third reporting an increase in export sales. The percentage of companies reporting a rise in domestic sales is at the highest level since before the recession at 35% compared to 14% who saw sales at home fall.

Whilst not as many companies (28%) have taken on staff in the last quarter as in the previous two quarters, only 4% of companies expect to shed staff over the next year, whilst over a third (34%) expect to increase their workforce.

However, finding sufficiently qualified staff is a widespread problem with over half (57%) of companies reporting having experienced difficulties in recruiting for vacancies. Professional managerial (64%) and skilled manual or technical staff (32%) were positions where the most difficulties were experienced, underlining the need to address the skills gap in London’s workforce.

Chief Executive of LCCI Colin Stanbridge said “It is great to see London businesses looking confidently towards the future, feeling positive about not just their own company’s prospects but those of the wider economy.

“But we must not overlook the difficulties that our members face in recruiting sufficiently qualified staff as this is a real vulnerability and is holding London back. We were glad to see the Chancellor announce the expansion of apprenticeship grants to employers, which we called for in our budget submission.”

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