Chancellor George Osborne’s programme of cuts to bring down Britain’s state deficit has the overwhelming support of business leaders, according to a new survey.
Some 89% of directors at major companies questioned by pollsters Ipsos Mori agreed that the Government’s policies will improve the state of the British economy.
And 75% said that the deficit needs to be cut quickly, starting this year, compared to just 20% who favoured delay to avoid the risk of undermining the recovery.
Ipsos Mori interviewed 102 executive board-level directors from companies which feature in the FTSE 350 index or are ranked among the top 500 industrials by turnover or the top 100 financial companies by capital for its annual Captains of Industry survey.
The results showed a sharp change in business sentiment following the general election. A similar survey taken this time last year found that 70% did not believe the policies being pursued by the Government under Gordon Brown’s Labour administration were good for the economy.
Respondents were more positive about the prospects for their own companies than at any time since 2006, with 60% expecting business to improve in 2001 and just 7% believing it will get worse.
For the first time since 2003, more business leaders (32%) expect the state of the UK economy to improve in the coming 12 months than expect it to get worse (29%). However, the largest group (39%) expect it to stay the same.
The deficit was named by 48% as one of the most important issues facing Britain, followed by competitiveness, unemployment and cuts management, each mentioned by 21%.
Ipsos Mori chief executive Ben Page said: “This time last year, 70% of business leaders disagreed that the Labour government’s policies would improve the economy, so it is fair to say that business leaders prefer the coalition’s economic plan.
“Many in the private sector believe that they have already had their recession and to enable them to return to more profitable times it is necessary for the public sector to face up to a different economic environment.”