Confidence on the rise for bosses as some workers return
COMPANY bosses have turned optimistic about the future prospects of their businesses for the first time since the pandemic began, as the economic recovery takes hold and more workers return to the office, albeit slower than the Government had hoped.
Confidence among executives understandably plunged during the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown that placed large parts of the economy on ice. But almost 40pc of those surveyed by the Institute of Directors said they are optimistic or very optimistic on their organisation’s future over the next year. This easily outweighs the 28pc who are pessimistic. The remaining one third said they were neutral on the question.
When asked about the wider economy, the majority said they are pessimistic, though the depth of their gloom has lessened in recent months as the reopening has picked up pace.
“We’re just starting to see a few green shoots, but firms are still in a great deal of difficulty,” said Tej Parikh, the business group’s chief economist. “Lockdown lifting has given companies some room to manoeuvre, but with the virus still in circulation, there will be a lid on the economic recovery.
“With the furlough scheme drawing to a close, firms are being forced to make difficult decisions. While the Treasury wants to avoid freezing the economy in place indefinitely, it should act to support jobs more widely, by cutting employment tax.”
The number of workers on furlough fell again, with just over one in 10 private sector employees still paid to stay at home under the job retention scheme, the Office for National Statistics found.
This is down by two thirds from a peak of more than three in 10 in May, and equates to around 2.4m people.
At the same time more workers are returning to offices, factories and other places of employment.
Just one in five are still exclusively working from home as most people took the commute at least once last week. The shift back to normality means the number still at their kitchen tables has fallen by almost half from the high point in June when nearly 40pc worked entirely from home.
Britain’s recovery means 57pc travelled to work at least one day in the final week of August; back in May, as few as one in three were doing so.