"This is a difficult time to run a business, let alone finance the major investments the UK economy will desperately need post Brexit to drive growth. "
Despite stable financial data, business confidence has fallen to its lowest level for nearly a decade to below previous post-referendum and post-election lows, according to the latest ICAEW business confidence monitor.
Confidence fell sharply with 42% of businesses less confident in the economic prospects facing their organisation over the next 12 months.
Brexit negotiations caused a sharp decline in confidence, and companies also cited regulations as a growing challenge, although the pace at which these concerns are rising has eased slightly.
Despite low confidence, growth in sales volumes is still around 4% and is expected to remain at this rate over the next 12 months.
Seperate research found that over half (56%) of business leaders have not started to make plans for the impact of Brexit on their business, as the majority believe that a deal will not be completed by March - according to live event polling held at a Brexit event for businesses.
At the event - held by Nucleus Commercial Finance, Gateley Plc and Trade Finance Global - 55% of attendees also said their business was being impacted negatively by currency fluctuations hitting the markets as the uncertainty about securing a Brexit deal continues.
Sharron Gunn, executive director at ICAEW, said: “Business confidence is at its lowest point since the financial crisis ten years ago. Leaving the EU and its potential impact is at the front of everyone’s minds. This is a difficult time to run a business, let alone finance the major investments the UK economy will desperately need post Brexit to drive growth. The Budget offered some relief to business but more significant action is needed by Government to provide stability and reassurance.”
Chirag Shah, CEO of Nucleus Commercial Finance, commented: "This latest confidence monitor from the ICAEW shows the biggest drop in business confidence since 2008. It clearly indicates the scale of the battering business confidence has taken due to the continuing lack of clarity around Brexit.
"With business confidence now at its lowest level in nearly a decade, we believe that more needs to be done by both policy makers and business leaders to ensure that both a positive mindset and proactive planning will lead UK plc through the huge transition of Brexit. There are lots of opportunities out there for businesses and they should not be discouraged from fulfilling their ambitions and delivering growth either now or after March 2019.”