10 January 2017

A new poll by the Institute of Directors (IoD) shows that business leaders are cautiously optimistic for 2017.

The survey found that over 60% of those polled were either optimistic or very optimistic about their prospects for the coming year. At +50%, the net optimism against pessimism figure was the highest since the EU referendum last June.

Conducted in December, the survey received 844 responses to the question "How optimistic are you about both the wider UK economy and also your (primary) organisation over the next 12 months?"

Responses showed an overall rating of +14% in favour of optimism, which the IoD points out was far better than the –20% recorded in October 2016.

However, business leaders highlighted a number of concerns that could dampen their cheery mood.

Half told the IoD that current economic conditions in the UK are having a negative effect on the growth of their businesses. A similar proportion (45%) highlighted the current uncertainty over the UK’s future trading relations with the EU as a negative factor.

Almost as many (40%) complained of a lack of employees with appropriate skills. That, says the IoD, demonstrates the need for both a long-term skills strategy and an immigration system that gives businesses access to the talented people they need.

According to the Institute’s Director General Simon Walker, businesses are becoming used to uncertainty and employers are getting on with the job of expanding their businesses and delivering jobs for the UK.

"A steady if unspectacular Autumn Statement has clearly settled nerves, and the early signs of the Industrial Strategy are certainly positive," he said.

Given further evidence of the impact of skills shortages the Government should, Mr Walker added, guarantee the status of EU citizens currently working for British businesses.