Business leaders’ confidence knocked by Theresa May’s resignation

Economy & Politics | National | Reports

Theresa May

Change at the top of British politics has rattled businesses leaders, a survey from the Institute of Directors has revealed.

The survey was conducted around the time of Theresa May’s resignation announcement. In the survey of 900 company directors, optimism in the business climate fell around 8 percentage points to -28% into early June, bucking a trend that had seen sentiment improve steadily since the turn of the year.

Firms’ outlook for the economy reached a nadir of -38% in December 2018 having fallen continuously since Spring last year. The confidence metric has now been in the red for 12 months in a row.

The IoD’s Confidence Tracker found bosses’ belief in their own firm’s prospects stayed reasonably resilient, at positive 27%. However, their expectations for future investment (7%) and employment (16%) remained weak, while anticipated costs remained elevated – explaining their negative outlook for the year ahead.

Aside from the UK’s economic conditions, the biggest factors directors cited as having a negative impact on their business were ongoing Brexit uncertainty, skills shortages, and the burden of regulatory compliance.

Tej Parikh, Chief Economist at the Institute of Directors, said: “Dealing with political uncertainty is part and parcel of leading a business, but this has been taken to extremes over recent years. With the nature of Brexit still ambiguous and another shakeup of key Government personnel in motion, many businesses have been holding back on investing in their staff, operations and technology to the detriment of UK productivity growth.”

Survey results

How optimistic are you about both the wider UK economy and also your organisation over the next 12 months? (Net % = optimistic minus pessimistic)

  Dec ’18 Jan ’19 Feb ’19 Mar ’19   Apr ‘19   May/June ‘19
Organisation confidence 30% 28% 26% 32%   34%   27%
Economic confidence -38% -35% -29% -23%   -19%   -28%


Which of the following factors, if any, are having a negative impact on your organisation?

UK economic conditions 55%
Uncertain trading status with the EU 50%
Skills shortages/employee skills gaps 40%
Compliance with Government regulation 40%
Global economic conditions 31%
Business taxes 30%
Difficulty obtaining payments 27%
Employment taxes 25%
Broadband cost/speed/reliability 24%
Transport cost/speed/reliability 23%
Cost of energy 18%
Access to, or cost of, finance 14%
Other (please specify) 5%
None of the above 2%
Don’t know/Not applicable 1%


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