NEWS2 January 2019

UK business anxious about economic outlook

Brexit News Trends UK

UK – Almost three quarters ( 74%) of FTSE 500 business leaders expect the country’s economy to decline over the next year – up from 66% the previous year, according to Ipsos Mori’s Captains of Industry survey.

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This increasing pessimism is tied in with the uncertainty around Brexit, with 95% saying it’s the most important issue Britain currently faces.

Most are not confident in the government’s ability to negotiate a good deal for UK businesses with the EU ( 68%). Only one fifth ( 19%) of business leaders agree they are confident – down from 28% last year.

More than half ( 55%) of business leaders view the decision to leave the EU as a significant risk to their company and three quarters ( 73%) disagree with the statement that the decision to leave the EU will bring significant new opportunities for their company.

They think Brexit to date is worse than they predicted 12 months ago with 67% feeling their company’s business situation is worse than it would have been if the UK had voted to stay in the EU (compared with 56% last year).

However, 92% are confident their company can adapt to the consequences of leaving the EU and half of business leaders ( 50%) expect the business for their own company to improve over the next 12 months, with one fifth ( 19%) expecting it to get worse.

Looking forward, three quarters ( 78%) of business leaders think that overall, the UK leaving the EU with no deal would have a negative impact on their business.

Business leaders’ confidence in economic policy remains low.  A third ( 38%) disagree with the statement that in the long term, this government’s policies will improve the state of the British economy. 

But they remain in support of the Conservative government with 94% of respondents disagreeing that Labour’s policies would improve the state of the British economy.

Ben Page, CEO of Ipsos Mori, said: "Britain’s largest businesses feel Brexit is having a more profound impact on British business than our business leaders thought it would a year ago – 67% of Captains think that their company is worse off. 

"As with the public, business is losing confidence in the government’s ability to manage Brexit, but have no confidence in Labour doing any better. More positively, most think they will adapt, but nearly all think leaving the EU with No Deal will be bad for their business."