Skip to main content
Become a member
  • Register
  • Login

Register Login

Chartered Director Articles

Press Releases

Bosses hold on to optimism amid concerns for wider economy in 2018

27 Dec 2017

IoD flag at 116 Pall MallBusiness leaders' confidence in their own firms remains robust as they look ahead to 2018, even against a backdrop of concerns about the wider UK economy, a new survey of 762 company directors reveals. The poll by the Institute of Directors shows that in December almost half of businesses were feeling ‘quite’ or ‘very optimistic’ about their own prospects but a similar number said they are feeling pessimistic when asked about the wider economy.

Half of the Institute’s members, predominantly drawn from small and mid-sized businesses, cited domestic economic conditions as the leading negative factor for their business, while around 4 in 10 said uncertainty surrounding the UK’s trading status with the EU and skills shortages was having a detrimental effect.

At the top of the New Year’s wish-list for domestic reform is investment in both physical and digital infrastructure, alongside reducing the regulatory burden for businesses. More than a third of IoD members want funding to improve existing transport infrastructure, closely followed by support for better coverage of faster broadband and simplifying red tape.

confidence graph

Stephen Martin, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:

“Everyone wants to end the year on a positive note, and it is welcome to see that directors are cautiously optimistic for their own businesses. We have seen progress in recent weeks in the Brexit talks, and overall the economy has beaten the more negative predictions for 2017. Our members will be looking ahead to 2018 determined to ensure their companies continue to thrive.  

"The  concern in these figures is the prevailing low expectations for the performance of the economy as a whole. Domestic economic conditions and uncertainty around our trading relationship with the EU continue to top our members' concerns. The Government must now build on the resilience of business leaders. It can help to bolster confidence by hitting the ground running in January, pushing ahead with the priorities spelled out in its Industrial Strategy in areas like transport and skills.

“It is also absolutely vital that quick progress is made in agreeing transitional arrangements with the EU for what comes after March 2019. Businesses need to plan ahead, so the Government must deliver greater certainty on the Brexit transition early in the new year.

“The next few months are a critical time for this Government and for businesses up and down this country. Getting the business environment right by investing in infrastructure and serious engagement with companies on the future trading relationship with the EU must remain top of the agenda.”

Full results:

This survey was conducted between 4 – 18 Dec 2017, with 762 participants

How optimistic are you about both the wider UK economy and also your organisation over the next 12 months? ​


Very pessimistic

Quite pessimistic

Neither optimistic nor pessimistic

Quite optimistic

Very optimistic

Don’t know

Wider UK economy

13%

36%

27%

22%

2%

0%

Your (primary) organisation

2%

15%

36%

38%

9%

0%


Net confidence for the year:



Jan '17

Feb '17

Mar '17

Apr '17

May '17

Jun'17

Jul'17

Aug'17

Sep '17

Oct '17

Nov '17

Dec '17

Organisation

43%

44%

37%

34%

36%

15%

28%

28%

39%

28%

42%

30%

Economy

15%

19%

7%

1%

-3%

-37%

-17%

-18%

-14%

-26%

-13%

-25%


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

UK economic conditions

50%

Uncertain trading status with the EU

43%

Skills shortages/employee skills gap

39%

Compliance with Government regulation

36%

Business taxes

27%

Broadband cost/speed/reliability

27%

Difficulty or delays obtaining payment from customers

27%

Employment taxes

26%

Global economic conditions

25%

Cost of transport

21%

Access to, or cost of, finance

16%

Cost of energy

15%

Other

4%

None of the above

3%

Don't know/not applicable

1%

 

Based on popular responses throughout the year, which of these would you like to see on the wish list for domestic reform next year?

More funding for transport infrastructure improvements

36%

Reduced regulatory burden

29%

More funding for better broadband coverage and faster speeds

27%

Reduced personal taxation

26%

More government/local authority funding for housing

26%

Remove students from the Government’s migration target

25%

Reduced corporation tax

23%

Increased financial incentives for students who study STEM subjects at university

20%

More business rates relief

16%

Increased funding to support adult training

15%

More funding for renewable energy

14%

Increased profile and accessibility of business support initiatives

13%

Reform to Apprenticeship Levy

12%

Better promotion of tendering opportunities for public sector contracts

8%

Don’t know

1%