Business confidence fell from -0.2 in Q3 to -12.3 this quarter – a sharp fall in the index.
Despite low confidence, growth in sales volumes is still around 4% and is expected to remain at this rate over the next 12 months.
Across the UK, all regions are in negative territory. FTSE 350 companies are more pessimistic than privately-owned businesses.
Companies continue to find regulations a growing challenge, although the pace at which these concerns are rising has eased slightly.
Sharron Gunn, ICAEW Executive Director, said: “Business confidence is at its lowest point since the financial crisis ten years ago. Leaving the EU and its potential impact is at the front of everyone’s minds. This is a difficult time to run a business, let alone finance the major investments the UK economy will desperately need post Brexit to drive growth. The Budget offered some relief to business but more significant action is needed by Government to provide stability and reassurance.”