Nearly one in four UK businesses say they are planning to take on more permanent staff over the next three months, despite confidence falling in the wake of the Brexit vote.

A survey of 600 employers by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) also showed that four out of five firms are planning to maintain or increase their use of agency workers in the run up to Christmas.

However, there was a marked regional variance in temporary hiring intentions, with 77% of firms in the South East, including London, expecting to increase or hold their temporary staff, while the figure was 98% in the North.

The survey also revealed that smaller businesses are more likely to take on more staff than large firms.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said: "The latest official figures show that employment remains at a record high. Our data suggests that this positive trend is set to continue, with employers actively looking to take on more staff in the last quarter of the year.

"Small businesses in particular are performing well and are seeking to grow. Strong consumer spending over the last few months has been a boon to the UK economy," Green said.

A quarter of employers surveyed between July and September thought that economic conditions were improving, down from 48% before in the March to May period.

"There are signs that business confidence in the economy is slipping. Whilst it is still too soon to draw conclusions about the impact of the decision to leave the EU, the data suggests that London is feeling the brunt of the referendum result," Green added.

"Businesses in the financial sector in particular are looking at the political and economic environment with some trepidation."

The REC survey also revealed that employers anticipated a shortage of candidates for permanent and temporary jobs in engineering, technology, construction and health.