UK firms’ confidence halves after Brexit, London region suffers

A quarter of employers thought domestic economic conditions would improve in July, August and the first half of September

By: Reuters | London | Published:October 26, 2016 5:38 am
brexit, european union referendum, eu referendum, eu referendum impact, brexit impact, britain economy, britain, business news With Britain leaving the EU, France and Germany want to boost European defense cooperation. (File Photo)

The number of British firms who are confident about the economy halved after the Brexit vote, with larger firms and those in regions which voted to stay in the EU more downbeat than those in areas that backed Leave, a survey showed. A quarter of employers thought domestic economic conditions would improve in July, August and the first half of September, down from 48 percent in between March and May, according to the survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

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Overall hiring intentions were broadly flat, but there was a marked regional difference in hiring intentions.

In the South East, including London, 77 percent of employers expected to increase or hold existing temporary staff in the next quarter, while the figure was 98 percent for the North.

“Whilst it is still too soon to draw conclusions about the impact of the decision to leave the EU, the data suggests that London is feeling the brunt of the referendum result,” said REC Chief Executive Kevin Green.

“Businesses in the financial sector in particular are looking at the political and economic environment with some trepidation.”

Large companies of more than 250 employees were also less likely to take on new permanent staff than smaller enterprises, which tend to be less likely to be exporters.

London, with its concentration of large international firms and financial services, stands out as particularly affected by worries about Britain’s new relationship with the EU.

A survey published by Lloyds Bank last month showed business confidence in July slumped in areas that voted to remain in the EU, while it bucked the countrywide trend to increase in Wales and other leave-voting areas.

House prices in September were weak in remain-voting London while they increased for the rest of the country. The REC survey of 600 employers was conducted by telephone from July 1 to Sept. 12.