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Gloucestershire Business News

Confidence hits new low across UK businesses

The coronavirus crisis has seen confidence among British business fall to an all-time low, according to a survey of senior financial executives.

The latest quarterly survey by accountancy group Deloitte says 90 per cent of finance directors reported a high or very high level of uncertainty.

And the report revealed only 16 per cent of executives are more optimistic about their firm's prospect than in the previous quarterly report.

It is a stark contrast to the final quarter of 2019 when the survey recorded business confidence at a record high, the drop taking levels below those seen during the global financial crisis in 2008.

Deloitte chief economist Ian Stewart said: "CFOs expect the lockdown to ease in May and June and demand in their own sectors to start recovering later this year.

"But there is no expectation of a quick snap back in activity with most assuming revenues will not return to pre-crisis levels for at least a year."

The survey revealed 98 per cent expect capital spending and hiring to be reduced for the rest of the year with 94 per cent saying they were unwilling to take risks.

On average they expect revenues to have dropped by 22 per cent than estimates made before the pandemic.

With 53 per cent forecasting a lengthy downturn in the economy, 76 per cent named reducing costs as a strong priority.

But there are some positives included in the report as businesses adapt to the changing situation.

Richard Houston, chief executive of north and south Europe at Deloitte, said: "Almost all finance leaders believe that flexible working will gain ground in the wake of this crisis.

"We have an opportunity to rethink the future of work in a way that boosts opportunity and innovation."

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