Con­fi­dence on the rise for bosses as some work­ers re­turn

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Tim Wal­lace

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.

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