Optimism among businesses has boomed in the last quarter, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which also hinted at a spike in planned IT spending this year.
According to the organisation's Service Sector Survey, the amount of business and professional services firms optimistic about trading conditions in the UK rose at the fastest rate since the survey began in 1998.
The CBI quizzed 97 business services firms and 64 consumer services companies over the summer.
The survey found half of its business service respondents were more optimistic about trading conditions than they were last quarter – signalling the highest boost in positivity for 15 years. Ten per cent of those were less hopeful than they were last quarter and the remaining respondents felt the same.
The IT sector was singled out by the CBI, which suggested that spending in the industry for the year ahead could be on the up.
The research found that last quarter, planned spending on IT for the year ahead would grow six per cent sequentially. But this quarter, that figure rose sharply and now stands at 21 per cent.
However, the organisation did warn that labour shortages could constrain capital expenditure on IT. Some 17 per cent of its respondents said this is a problem in its most recent survey, compared with only two per cent in the previous quarter.
Across the whole business and professional services sector, profitability enjoyed its sharpest rise, growing nine per cent compared to last quarter – the fastest rate since February 2008.
The number of those employed across the business services sector also surged 22 per cent sequentially – the fastest rate of growth since November 2007. In the next three months, headcount in the sector is expected to grow 36 per cent on the current quarter.
Stephen Gifford, CBI director of economics, said: "We have seen a further build-up of momentum in the service sector this quarter, with business and professional services firms in particular seeing a turnaround in their fortunes.
"Confidence has risen strongly across the board, and the outlook is positive in the short term."
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