Two new surveys of regional businesses in the ast of England show many bosses are cautious about prospects for the future.
According to the annual Close Brothers Business Barometer, some 64 per cent of small and medium sized businesses across the East of England are experiencing increased operating costs.
And of those, 53 per cent say it is having a negative impact on their cash flow.
Chief executive of Close Brothers Asset Finance, Mike Randall, said: “Operating costs have increased significantly over the past few years, and are one of the most difficult things for small business owners to manage.
“We work with businesses across a range of sectors and we can see that they are all concerned about operating costs.”
A third of firms surveyed say while direct costs have increased they feel unable to pass any of this on to their customers.
According to Lloyd Bank’s Business in Britain report, business confidence in the East has slipped in the last six months.
Steve Elsom, area director, said: “Although business confidence has slipped it is important to remember that the UK recovery remains on track.
“Firms remain eager to invest in infrastructure and staff for the long term. The right people and resources will help the companies to grow.”
Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said: “Businesses are pretty upbeat. A big issue is skill shortages but falling food and fuel prices, low interest and mortgage rates and more new jobs in Peterborough mean consumers and firms have a more optimistic outlook than for a few years.”