SMEs voice doubts about new Government


As the Government’s summer recess commences with question marks hanging over the Government’s unity, new research has revealed that three in ten SMEs did not believe that the new Government will do anything in the near future to help their businesses grow.

The poll asked owners and directors of over 1,200 SMEs nationwide what actions they had faith that the new Government would do that would help their business to grow.

The research found that of the businesses which anticipated a period of decline in the next six months, 38 per cent were holding out faith that a new government would reverse the decision on Brexit. This figure rose to 41 per cent amongst the SMEs that describe themselves as ‘struggling to survive’.

Just 12 per cent of SMEs anticipating a period of contraction or decline in the next six months believed that the new government will deliver strong leadership on managing the UK’s exit from the EU. This is in contrast with the 29 per cent of SMEs anticipating growth. Similarly, a mere 13 per cent of the SMEs anticipating decline had faith the government will be able to negotiate trade deals beyond the EU, in comparison with 29 per cent of those anticipating growth.

While Brexit prompted strong opinions amongst survey respondents, the key demands from SMEs were a reduction of red tape and lower taxes. These were the priorities across all the sectors and regions asked, with the exception of Scotland. Here, a clear and final position on Scottish independence was the top priority, with 32 per cent believing the new Government could deliver this.

Policies SMEs want, which they have faith the new Government will deliver:

I don’t have faith that the new Government will do anything in particular to help my business grow 29%
Simplify regulation and red tape 28%
Lower taxes 24%
Strong leadership on managing the UK’s exit from the EU 23%
Negotiate favourable trade deals beyond the EU 22%
Keep interest rates on hold 21%
Reverse the decision on Brexit 18%
Clamp down on cyber crime 18%
Encourage banks lend to more small businesses 15%
Abolish recent changes to business rates 13%
More grants and investments in our sector 12%
Greater support with apprenticeships/ training 11%
Improve access to finance 11%
A clear and final position on Scottish independence 9%
Greater rewards and incentives for environmentally friendly initiatives 6%
Don’t know 4%
Other 2%

Gavin Wraith-Carter, Managing Director at Hitachi Capital Business Finance comments: “These findings should be considered in the context that SME confidence levels pre- and post-election remained broadly the same. SMEs are the lifeblood of this country and we can see their strength and resilience in our results. Small businesses are not solely dependent on the actions of the government in order to achieve growth, rather it is one of a number of external factors to which they constantly adjust and adapt. Clearly Europe remains a top priority to a greater or lesser extent for all SMEs and many will be particularly sensitive to how the negotiations are handled.

“Beyond Europe, this shopping list for the government gives a clear picture of what issues they would like to be tackled so they can continue to be the driving force of the British economy.”