Support among business for Britain staying in the EU has declined, according to a new survey which warned that a mounting burden of red tape was damaging confidence.
ICSA: The Governance Institute, said many companies were “indifferent” to the prospect of Brexit.
Its latest FTSE 350 poll showed optimism among Britain’s biggest listed companies was now at its lowest point in at least four years.
It blamed global uncertainty and “considerable frustration arising from the tide of new regulation and legislation” for the drop.
Just 43pc of respondents described Brexit as “potentially damaging”, compared with 70pc last December, while “barely half” had considered the implications of the UK leaving the EU, according to ICSA.
Its poll showed 37pc of companies believed EU membership had a positive effect on their business, dramatically down from 61pc six months ago.
ICSA noted that Britain’s blue chip companies viewed EU membership “more favourably” than respondents from the FTSE 250, which is more domestically biased.
It came as Lloyds bank warned that new regulation and turbulence in financial markets were threatening the economy on “two fronts”, posing the biggest risk to growth in the year ahead.
Its survey of 110 executives of multinational banks, insurers and asset managers showed more than four in ten big financial services companies said their confidence “had diminished” due to fears of a deeper global slowdown.
ICSA’s latest confidence barometer showed just 13pc of respondents anticipated an improvement in activity over the next 12 months, representing the lowest share since the survey started in 2012.
The organisation warned that a fresh wave of regulation was forcing companies to prioritise “process over performance and strategy”.
While the Lloyds survey noted that the oil price drop and jitters surrounding the EU vote on June 23 were factors dragging down confidence, it highlighted that 44pc of respondents believed regulation had “come at a cost to economic growth”.
Many believed regulation had gone “too far”, according to the bank, which said new rules could exacerbate liquidity shortages, potentially causing huge market ructions.
Despite these concerns, a clear majority believed regulatory reforms have broadly had a positive impact, resulting in better transparency and greater protection for UK consumers.
Lloyds also said global growth fears had not dented expectations the UK would continue to be one of the best performing large economies this year.
Almost eight out of ten executives surveyed said they thought the UK would either grow “in line with” or “faster than” its G7 counterparts this year.
Ed Thurman, managing director of Lloyds financial institutions, said: “This year has already proved to be a very challenging year for the UK financial services sector and this has dented confidence across the sector.
“The headwinds of economic volatility and new regulation, do not show signs of abating, but the overwhelming view is that the UK will ultimately fare as well as, or better than our G7 peers.”
Courtesy : telegraph.co.uk