IoD – Business confidence in the UK economy stabilises “just below neutral” in May

The IoD Directors’ Economic Confidence Index, which measures business leader optimism in prospects for the UK economy, stabilised at -6 in May 2023, little changed from the previous month’s value of -5 and ending a five-month climb from a low of -64 in November 2022.

The current reading is a broadly neutral-to-negative stance, with 39% of IoD members feeling pessimistic about prospects for the UK economy in the year ahead compared to 33% feeling optimistic over the same time horizon.

When asked about current pain points for their organisation, the most common concerns were UK economic conditions (52%), skills shortages/employee skills gaps (46%) and the cost of energy (45%). These were the same top three concerns as the last time that question was asked in February 2023.

Kitty Ussher, Chief Economist at the Institute of Directors, said:

“Confidence improved in the first few months of the year as business leaders began to believe that the outlook for the UK economy, although difficult, was not as bad as they had previously been led to believe.  Our confidence index is now stabilising at a just-below neutral stance, similar to that recorded before the invasion of Ukraine.

“Although investment intentions are picking up and our members are broadly planning for growth it will take a greater sense that the worst is behind us before confidence really starts to lift.”