FDs lose faith in Labour

More than two in five finance directors have lost confidence in the government’s handling of the economy as a result of Railtrack.

This week’s Accountancy Age/ Reed Accountancy Personnel Big Question reveals that transport secretary Stephen Byers’ ‘renationalisation’ of the railways has severely dented finance chiefs confidence in the government.

While only 40% of the 343 FD’s surveyed said their views had not been affected by the affair, 42% said it had caused them to lose confidence in Labour’s ability to run the economy.

The findings signal declining support for the government among the business community – a situation which is particularly alarming for Labour ahead of next month’s Budget.

In a Big Question survey last May, Gordon Brown won an overwhelming victory over political rivals when 53% voted him the best would-be FD compared to the Conservative and Liberal democrat shadow chancellors.

But the views of many FDs are now not as rosy. One said: ‘Everything seems to be in a shambles. There are no positive results’.

Another commented: ‘They have raised taxes and revenue, but have not delivered.’

‘The government’s theft of Railtrack from the shareholders is equal to Mugabe’s land reform seizures,’ said another.

However, some were more understanding of the government’s position.

One said: ‘I believe many in the City assumed the government would simply bail Railtrack out. Clearly this did not happen and shareholders stand to lose. It is a matter of fact as to whether Railtrack was insolvent at the time, so why blame Byers or the government?’

Related reading