Brexit puts growth and recruitment plans on hold

NI Chamber head of policy Chris Morrow, with CEO Ann McGregor,  Brian Murphy, partner at BDO, and Maureen OReilly economist for the QES

NI Chamber head of policy Chris Morrow, with CEO Ann McGregor, Brian Murphy, partner at BDO, and Maureen OReilly economist for the QES

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A third of businesses have scaled back or put growth plans on hold due to the Brexit vote, according to the latest poll from a leading business group.

A quarter rolled back on recruitment plans amid uncertainty sparked by the UK’s vote to leave the EU the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry said.

However, a fifth are planning to expand investment outside Northern Ireland - and some hope to increase the size of their operations following the poll,

Its report added: “The outcome of the EU referendum has had limited impact on jobs, both national and non-national, as yet.”

A survey of the last three months suggested a third of businesses have reduced or frozen their ambitions for growth because of the Leave vote.

Uncertainty amongst businesses around future prospects intensified after the vote to leave the EU, the Quarterly Economic Survey published by the Chamber and business advisers BDO said.

Results suggest that whilst the economy is still growing, albeit more slowly, confidence around turnover and particularly profitability has fallen, recruitment intentions are lower and investment intentions have taken a significant hit.

Ann McGregor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber, said: “Sterling’s devaluation is a particular concern for members.

“It has provided a welcome boost to exporters, but it is putting significant pressure on costs, particularly for local manufacturers.

“This will impact on businesses’ bottom line and we are already starting to see members’ confidence around profitability particularly being eroded.

“It is only a matter of time before this will start putting upward pressure on prices.”

Businesses were asked to consider how to fund public expenditure.

Just over one third of members believed that the Executive should consider further devolution of fiscal/tax raising powers (36%) like stamp duties, income tax and air passenger duty on short haul flights.