Three out of ten company finance chiefs believe the UK economy is set to grow this year – almost double the number who fear another downturn.
A survey of finance directors and chief finance officers found 27% are anticipating “modest growth” of between 1% and 2.5% for the economy over the next 12 months – up from 13% in 2016 – while 3% are forecasting growth at a higher rate than this.
Just over half (52%) of those surveyed expect the economy to be flat or record “negligible growth” while the number forecasting the UK will re-enter recession has fallen from 45% in 2016 to 16%.
The research – carried out for professional body Icas’s magazine in conjunction with Scotland’s largest independent firm of chartered accountants Johnston Carmichael LLP – found domestic political factors are now seen as the biggest threat to growth followed by Brexit-related issues.
More businesses are worried about a possible skills shortage, with this now the third most common cause for concern, while the low oil price was less of a concern than it was in 2016.
About 120 Icas members who are either finance directors or chief finance operators took part in the survey, with half of those who responded being from Scotland while 30% were based in the rest of the UK.
Of the remainder, 2% were working elsewhere in the European Union, with 18% from companies in the rest of the world.
Their top priority for the coming year is growing revenues but businesses are increasingly worried about cyber security, with this going from fifth on their agenda in 2016 to third in 2017.
Sandy Manson, chief executive of Johnston Carmichael, said: “While events can be hard to predict and prevent, what’s important is how we respond.
“In this period of disruption and heightened political influence, there is a growing challenge for businesses to stay relevant and to remain trusted by those who invest in their products and services.”