BUSINESS confidence in West Dunbartonshire is showing "positive signs", says the area's chamber of commerce.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) reported last week that business confidence across Scotland improved slightly in the first quarter of 2017, but was still negative overall.

But the UK as a whole showed more firms were optimistic about their prospects.

The FSB said their survey of 300 firms in Scotland suggested employment growth was flat and plans for hiring more workers was much lower her than in the UK as a whole.

Damon Scott, chief executive of Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Dunbartonshire tends to reflect the wider picture so it is a worry that we are lagging behind the rest of the UK in terms of business confidence.

"However, locally we have seen positive signs from some of the larger organisations such with major investment announced by chamber members Chivas and the Golden Jubilee Foundation, new investment from Iceland, Clyde Training Services and staff increases at Ascensos call centre in Clydebank.

"Whilst there is still a great deal of uncertainty with inflation rising and Brexit negotiations ongoing there are still smaller businesses setting up and rolling out exciting expansion plans with Your Radio being a good example of this in Dumbarton.

"The chamber will continue to work with our partners to grow the local economy and, as part of the Scottish Chambers network, to tackle issues such as skills and taxation to encourage business confidence, investment and growth with the Scottish Government.”

Four in 10 firms surveyed by the FSB said consumer demand was the main limit to growth with a quarter saying skills shortages was a problem. Others had concerns about business costs going up.

Andy Willox, FSB's Scottish policy convener, said: "Scottish business confidence couldn't fall much further at the end of 2016.

"A bounce at the start of this year is welcome, but looks like it will be tricky to sustain given that firms are reporting falling revenues.

"Too few Scottish businesses have faith that our economy is travelling in the right direction.

"The UK government needs to convince firms that their plans for Brexit will safeguard their interests.

"The Scottish government and our local councils also need to put local growth at the top of their agenda."