BUSINESS confidence plunged in Scotland in the third quarter because of ongoing uncertainty around Brexit and the lack of a clear result from the General Election, a major survey of UK accountants has revealed.

The Scottish reading on the latest ICAEW Business Confidence Monitor, based on the views of more than 1,000 chartered accountants, fell back to -4.9 in quarter three.

It had been measured at +10.4 in quarter two. A score of zero on the monitor, which takes in the views of 60 accountants in Scotland, indicates that respondents are as confident as they were when previously surveyed.

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The quarter three survey underlined the effect of pressure on profit margins among businesses. Although input price inflation was lower in Scotland than the UK average, at 1.3 per cent versus 2.5 per cent, it was offset by sales prices rising more slowly (0.3 per cent) than the UK average (1.1 per cent). And, while businesses anticipate growing profits by three per cent over the course of 2017, this was lower than forecast in previous quarters. The survey also found, amid poor economic indicators, investment plans are being suppressed in Scotland.

ICAEW Scotland president Neil Strong said: “Whilst it is always disheartening to see confidence decline, the latest results were to be expected.”