Businesses in the UK are planning to spend £1.7bn over the next two years after the Conservatives' victory in December's general election removed Brexit uncertainty, a survey has revealed.

SMEs in Wales and the East of England and Wales were, however, the least optimistic about the future, with just 27 per cent confident about the next two years. They planned spending increases of £31m and £102m respectively.

The figures are revealed following a survey by finance specialist Together.

The survey found more than a quarter of owners and senior executives at SMEs across the UK said they plan to move to new offices, and 23 per cent said they expect to expand their workforces.

The research, which took place after the EU Withdrawal Bill was voted through the House of Commons this month, also found that SMEs in the North East of England are the most upbeat, with 57 per cent of respondents saying they were optimistic after Brexit uncertainty ended.

Regionally, firms in the North West and Yorkshire & The Humber had been the most downbeat, with 67 per cent and 66 per cent respectively worried about the future.

However, the election seems to have brought renewed a change of mood, with 53 per cent and 47 per cent respectively saying they are now more upbeat.

London remains the region where the most extra investment by SMEs is expected - rising £393m - followed by the South East at £337m.

Andrew Charnley, head of corporate relationships at Together, said: "Our survey has identified major commitments, in the North and Midlands in particular, where firms plan to spend more than a third of the cash.

"However, they will need support from lenders who do not take a 'one size fits all' approach and are willing to look at proposals in the round, including focusing on business prospects and regional differences."

About a fifth of SMEs - 21 per cent - said they had postponed plans to move premises because of Brexit uncertainty, while 23 per cent delayed pay rises for workers and 19 per cent had deferred plans to take on more staff.

However, the decisive general election result means 42 per cent of firms are now optimistic about their prospects compared with only eight per cent which would have been optimistic if the uncertainty had continued.

Not all businesses agree - two out of five say the departure from the EU makes no difference, Together added.

More than half - 54 per cent - of SMEs questioned had initially been pessimistic, saying that Brexit uncertainty had been holding back their businesses. That figure has now dropped to just 18 per cent since the result.