Monthly Decision Maker Panel data - November 2021

The Decision Maker Panel (DMP) is a survey of Chief Financial Officers from small, medium and large UK businesses. We use it to monitor developments in the economy and to track businesses’ views.
Published on 02 December 2021

The November DMP survey was conducted between 5 and 19 November and received 2,780 responses.

In November, businesses estimated that their sales in 2021 Q4 would be 5% lower than they otherwise would have been because of Covid-19, with investment 8% lower and employment 2% lower.

In the latest survey, businesses’ near-term expectations for the impact of Covid on sales and investment deteriorated slightly, although the expected impact on near-term employment was little changed. The impact of Covid on sales was expected to reach -5% in 2021 Q4, a touch more negative than the -3% in the October survey. In November, 2022 Q1 and Q2 sales were expected to be on average around 4% and 2% lower than in the absence of Covid, with the expected impact of Covid-19 on medium-term sales, for 2023 and beyond, close to zero.

In November, Covid was expected to lower investment by 8% in 2021 Q4, compared with -7% in the October survey. Investment in 2022 Q1 was expected to be around 2% lower than in the absence of Covid, with this expected impact easing to around 0% in 2022 Q2. The drag on investment was expected to reverse in the medium-term, however, with investment expected to be 1% higher than in the absence of Covid in 2023 and beyond.

Firms reported broadly stable expectations for the near-term employment impact from Covid. Businesses expected employment to be 2% lower due to Covid in 2021 Q4, a very slight improvement on expected impacts reported in the October survey for the same quarter. In November, firms anticipated the impact of Covid on employment to worsen marginally to -3% in 2022 Q1, although this impact was expected to ease to -1% in 2022 Q2, and to close to 0% in 2023 and beyond. 

In November, businesses reported positive employment growth on average over the past 12 months. The percentage of workers on premises was reported to have fallen to 71% in November, down from 74% in the previous month. The share of workers who were unable to work (due to factors including sickness, self-isolation, and childcare) also rose slightly in November to 3%, up from 2% in October.

In November, 85% of firms reported they were finding it harder to recruit new employees compared to normal, with 58% reporting it to be much harder. Disruption to non-labour inputs was affecting fewer of those inputs, but had become more widespread across businesses. Firms reported that, on average, 16% of their non-labour inputs had been disrupted over the last month, down 2 percentage points on October. At the same time, the proportion of firms suffering some form of disruption to their non-labour inputs rose by 9 percentage points to 66%. 10% of firms reported that disruptions had affected over half of their non-labour inputs. 

Annual price inflation continued to increase in the DMP, reaching 4.9% on average in the three months to November, up by 0.4 percentage points on October. Year-ahead annual price inflation was expected to be 4.2% in the three months to November 2022, up from 3.9% in the October survey. 

Overall uncertainty fell back in November, with the percentage of businesses that viewed the overall level of uncertainty facing their business as high or very high down to 48% in November, 7 percentage points lower than the previous month. Covid remained the largest source of uncertainty for 12% of businesses, down from 16% in October, whilst the share of firms reporting that Covid was in in their top three sources of uncertainty rose slightly to 53%, up from 50% in the previous month. The share of firms that reported Brexit in their top three sources of uncertainty remained stable at 38% in November.

The DMP was set up in August 2016 by the Bank of England together with academics from Stanford University and the University of Nottingham. It was designed to be representative of the population of UK businesses. All results are weighted. See Bloom et al (2017) for more details.

The DMP receives funding from the Economic and Social Research Council.