The Tory party this week immediately seized on the findings to claim that business taxes and regulation should be ‘reined in’ to help companies deal with economic downturn and the financial fall-out of the attacks in New York and Washington.
Of the FD’s polled in this week’s Accountancy Age/Reed Personnel Big question, 32% said the tragic events in New York and Washington had forced them to make business decisions they would not otherwise have made.
One FD said: ‘We are re-examining all of our business strands and trying to prepare ourselves for the possible impact.’
Shadow trade secretary John Whittingdale said the survey ‘confirmed’ that the terrorist attacks had affected many areas of UK business. He called for measures to aid companies through the crisis.
‘In a global economy, governments should ensure businesses are free to flourish, by reining in tax and regulation.’
He attacked Labour for worsening the burden of regulation and claimed the government brought in ‘£5bn a year of new taxes.
‘This may have appeared sustainable in a thriving global climate, but in harsh time this is the difference between survival and collapse,’ he added.
One effect of the attacks was the immediate rise in insurance premiums and claims which was on the agenda when Sax Riley, chairman of Lloyds of London recently met with Maurice Greenberg of AIG, and other insurers, to discuss contingency plans.
FDs in the survey revealed that travel plans had been changed, and budgets redrawn. Security reviews have been held, recruitment has been frozen and staff in high-risk locations temporarily repatriated home.
Even those FDs who had so far not reacted to the attacks many predicted that the first part of next year would see the effects being felt.
A similar survey by the US magazine Accounting Today last month found 57% of CFOs expected their company’s earnings to be damaged in the year ahead.
A Department of Trade and Industry spokesman said: ‘We’re in constant contact with companies. It’s the constant work of the department to help and monitor companies.’
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