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April: Redundancies hit men hard; unoccupied desk costly, and more…

Confidence crisis
Senior executives’ outlook on the economy is steadily worsening, figures from
KPMG
suggest. In the latest quarterly survey on business sentiment
conducted by the auditor on attitudes in the third quarter of 2008, 80% of
senior executives believed the outlook for the UK economy was bad or very bad,
compared with 60% in the previous quarter. Just under 90% in the latest survey
said the economy would get worse before it got better, and 16% predicted the
‘credit crunch’ will last another two years.

Business unequipped

Turnaround
professionals have little faith that UK companies are
prepared to deal with the economic crisis. A poll of 70 members of the Institute
for Turnaround, conducted with GE Commercial Finance, shows that only 10%
believe UK firms are ‘well equipped’ to deal with the downturn. However, this is
up from 6% in 2008. “It is vital that businesses keep a close eye on their cash
flow and cut any necessary costs to pull through these adverse conditions says
Christine Elliott, chief executive of the IFT.

Fraud predictions up
The amount and types of fraud are set to increase,
PricewaterhouseCoopers
predicts. Its recent white paper on the changing nature of fraud
risks faced by UK companies says fraud risk will “get worse before it gets
better.” Spiralling costs of employee fraud and theft, falsified qualifications
and experience in job applications, deliberate misrepresentation of
non-financial data and rogue trading incidents are all set to increase, says
PwC.

Men hit by recession
Redundancies are hitting men harder than women, according to the
Office
for National Statistics
. In the last quarter of 2008, 82,000 women
were made redundant, a 5.5% increase on the previous quarter, compared to
177,000 men, a 6.9% increase. Between 1971 and the end of 2008, the employment
rate for women grew from 56% to 70%, while the employment rate for men dropped
from 92% in 1971 to 78% in Q4 2008.

Aim listing valued
Over half of institutional investors and companies listed on the Alternative
Investment Market expect it to recover from historical lows by 2010, according
to a survey by
Baker
Tilly
and law firm Faegre & Benson. The survey says 74% of
companies would still have listed on Aim even if they had known in advance how
difficult 2008 would be. Just over 80% of Aim investors would consider UK
companies more attractive than international ones in the next year or two.

Wasted money
Companies could save as much as £20m a year by reducing unoccupied desk space
and getting staff to turn off their computers when they leave, according to
RNM
Systems
, the workplace management company. The average desk
occupancy rate is 45%, which equates to companies with 2,000 employees spending
£8m a year more than needed on unnecessary energy usage and under-utilising
space.

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