Belfast Telegraph

Business confidence tumbles following Brexit vote, study shows

Business confidence has fallen in recent months, with only a minority of firms planning to hire more workers, a new study shows.

A survey of employment agencies found that just one in four will take on permanent staff in the coming quarter.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said its study of 600 employers suggested that most were holding back from making job cuts after Brexit caused confidence to fall.

Smaller businesses were more likely to be planning to hire staff.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said: " It's not surprising that confidence took a knock following the referendum result, but there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic.

"Small to medium sized enterprises are the lifeblood of our economy and it's encouraging to see that hiring intentions remain strong within this group, suggesting they have taken the referendum result in their stride.

"In general employers have avoided knee-jerk reactions to staffing and this 'business-as-usual' approach bodes well for the UK jobs market in the next few months. Recruiters tell us that while their clients are taking longer to confirm permanent appointments, vacancies have continued to grow since the referendum."

The survey showed that a quarter of public sector organisations have made redundancies in the last 12 months.

Mr Green added: "Public sector organisations have been under pressure to reduce costs for some time, and with the easy savings having already been made we're now seeing some redundancies. It's likely that this will feed through into poorer levels of service.

"At a time when schools and hospitals are already struggling to perform, this situation doesn't seem sustainable in the long term."