A survey commissioned by Simply Business revealed that 76% of UK small businesses feel unsupported as Brexit approaches.
We’ve all seen the headlines about large corporations scaling-down their UK operations or leaving the country all together – such as Nissan’s recent decision to build its X-Trail models in Japan instead of its Sunderland plant, or Sony announcing that they will move their HQ to the Netherlands to avoid Brexit disruption. But little has been reported about SMEs – despite the fact that they account for a huge 99% of UK business and employ around 16 million people (according to the Federation of Small Businesses).
1,200 bosses of small and medium companies were approached by Simply Business and asked if they felt supported ahead of Brexit, and if the lack of support was having an impact on their business.
76% of small businesses feel a lack of support
In addition to this, only 20% of those asked said they know where to go for Brexit-related business advice.
35% of small businesses have delayed growth plans and investment
Business owners said that it’s difficult to plan too far ahead due to Brexit uncertainty, with over a third reporting that they had delayed plans to expand. 8% have made redundancies in order to cut costs, compared to just 4% who are recruiting new staff as part of their Brexit preparations.
32% have already felt a negative impact on their business
Just under a third of those asked said they are already feeling a negative effect on their business. While many reported no negative effects, 40% said that they expect to feel an impact by the end of the year.
Worryingly, 19% of respondents said they were close to closing down their business due to a lack of support and guidance.
SMEs “deserve more”
Bea Montoya, COO at Simply Business, said: “There isn’t a blueprint for what happens after Brexit, which is particularly challenging for the UK’s 5.7m hardworking SMEs.
“The self-employed are the backbone of the British economy, and they deserve more support and guidance – after all, it’s they who employ the majority of the UK workforce. A workforce which, according to our survey, is potentially at risk. Surely the government can clarify guidelines for what steps SMEs should take?”
It’s not all bad news…
Despite all the pessimism, 8% of companies were expecting a positive impact on their business in the wake of Brexit.
14% have already seen an increase in sales and 20% said they were exploring new markets.