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Optimism is growing, says accountants’ confidence index


The Business Confidence Monitor published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants forecasts the largest single annual rate of growth in R&D spending, at 2.8%.
Firms expect to increase their recruitment by 2.2% – the highest rate of growth since early 2008.
The overall confidence index for the East of England is 23.9 for July-September this year, slightly down on the previous quarter but ahead of the UK national figure of 21.5.
ICAEW East England regional director Pippa Bourne said: “The BCM suggests that the economic recovery continues to take hold in the region and it is very encouraging that fewer firms have reported issues with access to finance in the region.”
A year ago, 36% of businesses reported such problems. The latest BCM has the figure at 16%. However, Mrs Bourne added, ICAEW research indicated a limited demand for new debt as firms worked to manage their costs and were meeting their financial needs by other means.
Concerns over transport infrastructure have increased in the region since the middle of 2009. Three in ten firms consider transport infrastructure to be a greater challenge to business performance than a year ago, compared to 7% only a year ago. 
Grant Thornton managing partner in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire Malcolm Gomersall said: “There is a mixed picture for business across the region and some sectors continue to struggle more than others. Clearly economic conditions remain tough but there are signs that some companies are looking to switch from short-term survival measures to opportunities for growth.
“The recession has changed the business landscape and the measures businesses have taken to survive may make them stronger as the recovery begins to take hold.”
The BCM is based on the informed opinions of around 1,000 senior business professionals. It has proved to be an accurate forward indicator of GDP growth.