Uncertainty over Brexit talks is "no friend of business" and over half of accountants are feeling less confident than they did last year, according to a survey today.
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) said uncertainty over the UK's exit from the EU was the biggest driver of a fall in business confidence. Nearly 70% said they see no opportunities in Brexit. But the ACCA also said confidence was being hit by concerns over the future of freedom of movement of potential talent, and the impact on economic growth.
While over half of firms said they were less confident than they were last year, 29% said they were "much less confident". Only one in 10 firms reported that confidence was up, while one-quarter said there had been no impact from Brexit.
As well as calling on politicians to work to offer clarity, Liz Hughes, head of ACCA Ireland, said: "The loss of confidence across the UK and Ireland is a cause for concern. Professional accountants are embedded in every sector and industry and their views represent an important snapshot from the front-line of the wider economic outlook. You can clearly see that uncertainty is the main driver and is no friend of business.
"Seventeen months on from the referendum, the UK Government's preferred direction of travel on Brexit remains unclear.
"The total cost in terms of investments delayed and decisions not taken is much harder to measure, but what we do know is that this uncertainty is affecting business decisions now not only in the UK but in Ireland also."