A new survey of Britain's marketing communications agencies shows the outlook for the industry is improving.

According to the Q1 2004 Agency Barometer from the Communications Agencies Federation, budgets are rising across all marketing disciplines. The quarterly study polls members of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, the Public Relations Consultants Association and the Marketing Communications Consultants Association (the three organisations in the CAF).

Among the findings:

● 51% of agencies reported an increase in client budgets, up from 42% in Q4 2003. The percentage suffering a cut in spend tumbled from 31% to 21% over the same period.

● 65% of agencies have raised their income predictions for the year, while just 10% have revised their expectations downwards.

● In terms of new business, 58% said the market was busy, and 20% described it as buoyant, compared with 58% and 13% respectively in the previous quarter.

● 79% are more optimistic about their financial prospects than in the previous poll, compared with 67% in Q4. This trend is particularly noticeable at agencies with gross income over £10m; 88% of these were more upbeat about their fiscal outlook, compared with just 33% in Q4.

Commented IPA president Stephen Woodford: "This is tremendously encouraging news for the agency industry, which we should see translated into improved financial and employment figures in 2004."

Data sourced from: IPA Online; additional content by WARC staff