Economic confidence fell considerably in the last quarter of 2021, reflecting the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 strain and the resulting increased restrictions, according to ACCA's latest Global Economic Conditions Survey.

The survey which was conducted in December found that economic confidence fell by almost a third (29.6%) due to the impact of the high case numbers on the workforce and supply chains.

The professional accountancy body has said that other factors such as rising inflation coupled with high energy prices resulting in squeezed incomes has also impacted upon economic confidence.

The fall comes on the back of the Irish confidence reaching record levels in the second and third quarter of the year due to the rollout of the vaccination programme and the strong recovery within the economy.

The results of the survey, which is conducted globally, painted a similar picture in the neighbouring regions with Western European confidence falling by 14% and the UK falling by 11% respectively. Irish Economic Confidence has fallen behind its neighbours in the UK and Western Europe albeit marginally, by less than 2%.

Caitriona Allis, Head of ACCA Ireland, said, "The results of our global economic conditions survey are indicative of the challenges that the new variant brought to society in December, while reinforcing how quickly things can change.

"The rapid spread of the virus resulted in extremely high case numbers significantly impacting the workforce, supply chains and the wider economy, with restrictions and rising inflation adding to a perfect storm," she said.

"As we begin 2022, we are in a stronger position than last year. The research is indicating that Omicron is milder, and this coupled with a high vaccine booster uptake is positive. The Government is indicating that existing restrictions will be lifted soon which is welcome, and the resilience that the economy has shown over the last 24 months serves us well to bounce back with a strong economic recovery."