Brexit concerns rise as UK businesses fret about economy

LONDON • UK companies are getting more worried about the economy and feeling less confident in spending money on hiring or investing, according to a new report.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said an index of economic conditions has fallen to the lowest this year, with a greater proportion of respondents to its survey saying things are getting worse. Employers are still looking to hire, it said, but their confidence in doing so has diminished.

Oxford Economics’ Andrew Goodwin said in a report published yesterday that the chance of a successful separation and transition arrangement being agreed between Britain and the European Union (EU) has fallen. He added that being outside the single market during the transition would undermine the intended benefits of creating stability for companies.

“The UK has made little attempt to progress separation issues, while its ideas for transition could require yet more negotiation and risk eroding the benefits of transitional arrangements for business,” he said.

While easy access to EU markets is one worry weighing on UK firms, another is their ability to tap into the pool of EU workers they say they need.

“The government must do more to create an environment where businesses have clarity,” REC CEO Kevin Green said. “The jobs market is in a good place but employers will only continue to hire and invest if they feel assured about the future.”

Separately, Migration Watch, a group arguing for lower immigration, published a report saying that net migration from nonEU countries won’t fall significantly by the end of the current parliamentary term in 2022 without further “determined action”.

The figure stood at at 175,000 last year, accounting for 70% of overall net migration of almost 250,000. — Bloomberg