UK business confidence falls again

Business confidence in Britain has fallen for the fourth quarter in a row as fears of an economic slowdown loom, a survey said today.

The latest index of confidence among almost 1,000 chartered accountants at UK firms declined steeply in the three months to the end of April, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) said.

The index ranges between a score of 100 for total confidence and minus 100 for complete pessimism. The latest average reading – minus 19.7 – compares with a positive score of 11.5 a year earlier.

ICAEW chief executive Michael Izza said: “The slowdown in the economy is no longer just an issue in the City of London.

“It has spread to all sectors, to businesses of all sizes and across all regions. Nowhere in the UK is business immune to the fall out from recent issues in the global financial markets.”

Confidence is in shortest supply among property, banking and financial services firms, ICAEW said.

Property firms faced with falling residential and commercial prices took the bleakest view of future prospects, with the minus 47 score the lowest ever recorded by the index.

Consumer-facing sectors such as retailing and hotels also saw waning confidence amid a continuing squeeze on spending.

Businesses across all regions of the country are pessimistic over their prospects, with confidence shaken most in the North West, Scotland, London and Wales.

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