More jobs for South East - despite spending review

George Osborne, Conservative shadow chancellor
George Osborne, Conservative shadow chancellor

by business editor Trevor Sturgess

As firms and public sector organisations brace themselves for bad news in today's public spending announcement, regional business chiefs have struck a more optimistic note by forecasting more jobs.

The Regus Business Tracker survey, carried out before Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (left) delivers his Comprehensive Spending Review on a day dubbed "Axe Wednesday", revealed that a third (33 per cent) of companies in the region are looking to add to their workforce in 2011.

This finding will encourage a government that hopes the private sector will pick up the thousands of jobs going in the public sector. As many as half a million jobs could go over the next few years as part of the deficit reduction.

The survey reveals cautious optimism among many business leaders. But the findings were just below the national average of 34 per cent planning to hire new staff.

However, the survey of more than 300 bosses revealed that 54 per cent are looking to cut overhead costs without losing staff. Just over 50 per cent do not expect much of an economic recovery until the second half of 2011.

Mark Dixon, Regus chief executive, said: "The intention to increase headcount is a clear indicator that businesses in the South East want to be prepared to grasp the opportunities that recovering markets may throw their way. The UK, where unemployment is currently at eight per cent and is not expected to drop noticeably in the coming 24 months, should take this result as a positive sign of optimism."

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