Friday 23 August 2019

'Economy to worsen' - poll reveals nation is bracing itself for Brexit hit

Poll: One in three say economy to worsen

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA
Jody Corcoran

Jody Corcoran

The public is bracing itself for the worst effects of Brexit with one-in-three people expecting the economy to worsen next year, according to a Kantar/Sunday Independent consumer sentiment opinion poll.

The poll shows as few as one-in-five (21pc) believes the economy will improve, down eight points on last year, reflecting several economic uncertainties, particularly the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

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In a series of other gloomy findings on the outlook over the next 12 months, the poll also found that around half thinks the country is going in the wrong direction, a figure which has almost doubled year-on-year.

But while the poll has also found increased negative sentiment in relation to personal finances, it has detected a mood of stoic acceptance of the challenges ahead and relative confidence that the country will cope.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: Reuters
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: Reuters

Indeed, the poll presents a picture of a nation expecting their personal financial situation to somewhat worsen but to mostly remain the same, and a view that the strong economy in recent years has peaked.

When asked about their personal mood, and offered five positive and negative sentiments, 69pc of respondents were positive and 31pc negative.

"It would seem that as a nation we know that there are challenges ahead, but we generally feel comfortable with how to deal with them," Paul Moran, associate director of Kantar, writes this week.

The poll was taken among a representative sample of 967 people at 64 sampling points around the country between July 14 and 25. The margin of error is 3.2pc.

Therefore, the poll was taken during the Conservative Party leadership contest in the UK, and during the first two days of the premiership of Boris Johnson, who immediately hardened the UK's position on Brexit.

Read more here: Eoghan Harris: 'Leo Varadkar has left it too late even to eat humble pie'

The results were also in before the Central Bank of Ireland warned last week of major job losses across the economy in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In its latest Quarterly Bulletin, the bank forecasts 34,000 fewer jobs by the end of next year and 110,000 fewer jobs over the next 10 years.

On personal finances, the poll found that consumer sentiment has retracted sharply, compared to both last year and to where people expect to be next year.

In relation to next year, 22pc (down 13 points) expect to be better off while 21pc (up three points) expect to be worse off and 48pc (up seven points) expect to be the same.

Clear demographic differences were also found, with the better off AB, younger and Dublin consumers more optimistic, while the net difference in all other categories is in the negative, particularly outside of Dublin and among older consumers.

On a wider front, just 21pc (down nine points) expect the economy to improve next year while 39pc (down seven points) expect it to remain the same and 32pc (up 15 points) expect it to worsen, a finding which undoubtedly relates to the threat of Brexit.

A significant minority (45pc), down a massive 21 points in a year, believe the country is going in the right direction while 38pc (up 18 points) believe the country is on the wrong track.

This finding will be of concern to the Government, taken alongside the finding published last week that a minority (43pc) think the Brexit process is being handled well by the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.

However, the poll's personal mood findings show consumers to be still generally positive: 18pc describe themselves as happy, compared to 4pc unhappy; 23pc optimistic compared to 10pc pessimistic; 8pc cheerful compared to 4pc depressed; 11pc calm compared 3pc angry.

The only negative personal mood finding shows 9pc relaxed compared to 11pc who describe themselves as anxious.

Sunday Independent

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