A majority of managers in the UK believe Brexit-related uncertainty will hold back economic growth next year and almost half think leaving the UK will be a drag in the long term, according to a survey.
The 2017 outlook from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) paints a relatively downbeat picture of the UK economy, but managers appear optimistic about their own organisations’ ability to thrive despite worries surrounding Britain’s exit from the European Union and the global climate as Donald Trump takes over the US presidency.
In a survey of 1,118 managers, the CMI found 65% were pessimistic about the UK’s economic outlook for the next 12-18 months. Their caution over 2017 followed what appeared to be a tough year for many organisations, when only 39% said they had grown, the lowest proportion since 2012 when the shockwaves from the eurozone debt crisis hit the UK economy. A further 39% said business levels had stayed roughly the same in 2016 and 22% said their business had declined.
Asked about the impact of Brexit on economic growth in the next three to five years, 49% thought it would be negative. But a sizeable 37% believed leaving the EU would have a positive impact on the UK economy and 14% said it would have no impact.
The findings follow signs that businesses are becoming more nervous about hiring and investing as Brexit negotiations approach. Companies and individuals have also become more concerned about costs because the pound’s sharp fall since the referendum has made imports such as fuel and food ingredients to the UK more expensive.
But the CMI poll, conducted in November and published on Wednesday, also showed a majority of managers, 57%, were confident about their organisations’ own prospects in the year ahead. Just 25% said they felt pessimistic. Managers in the private sector were more optimistic than those in the public and charity sectors.
The CMI’s chief executive, Ann Francke, said the results showed that despite uncertain times ahead there were still opportunities for “forward-thinking” UK businesses.
“Although it’s clear that there are significant challenges posed by the UK’s decision to Brexit, as a country we need to move forward and harness pragmatic positivity,” she said.