25 July 2017

A new survey from Deloitte shows that optimism among UK businesses has fallen since the general election while concerns about the impact of Brexit have risen.

The poll of more than 120 Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) found that 42% were less optimistic about the prospects for their company then they were three months ago – a rise of 17% on the previous quarter.

The percentage saying they were more optimistic fell from 31% in Q1 2017 to 18% in Q2.

Deloitte’s latest Survey (available at http://bit.ly/2tdv0zn) also reveals that 43% of CFOs think the level of uncertainty facing their business is high or very high – up from 34% in Q1.

Commenting for Deloitte, Ian Stewart said that business sentiment has been on a rollercoaster in the last 18 months: slumping in the aftermath of the EU referendum, staging a strong recovery; and then falling again in the wake of the general election.

While noting that the latest dip probably reflects surprise at the outcome of the election, he pointed out that the survey also showed that concerns about geopolitics and weak global growth have eased significantly compared to 2015 and 2016.

A significant proportion (72%) of those interviewed said they fear that the business environment will be worse when the UK leaves the EU.

That represents an increase from 60% in Q1 and is the highest level recorded by the survey since the June 2016 referendum. Those saying they think Brexit will result in a better business environment comprised just 8% of respondents – which Deloitte notes is the lowest level recorded.

According to David Sproul of Deloitte North West Europe, "more CFOs now see Brexit slowing business investment and hiring, as well as an overall weaker business environment once the UK leaves the EU".