Uncertainty Sees Confidence Dive among Small Firms; Small Business All the News and Analysis for Ambitious Company Owners Step-Change in Attitudes towards Brexit

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), July 9, 2017 | Go to article overview

Uncertainty Sees Confidence Dive among Small Firms; Small Business All the News and Analysis for Ambitious Company Owners Step-Change in Attitudes towards Brexit


Byline: SMALL BUSINESS EDITOR by Vicki Owen

BUSINESS confidence is down by nine percentage points compared with the start of the year, according to a survey seen exclusively by The Mail on Sunday.

Uncertainty brought about by Brexit is the biggest challenge facing the Government, according to the latest SME Confidence Tracker, a quarterly survey of more than 1,000 small and medium enterprises from funding provider Bibby Financial Services.

Fifty-nine per cent of respondents said that uncertainty caused by Brexit is damaging to the Government's ambition for a more productive and prosperous economy. The research was conducted throughout the recent General Election period and on the eve of the first anniversary of the UK's decision to leave the EU.

Only 40 per cent said they were expecting sales to increase over the next three months. In the first quarter, 49 per cent were anticipating a rise in sales.

Edward Winterton, UK chief executive of Bibby Financial Services, said: 'Financial markets don't like uncertainty, but neither do small and medium-sized businesses. We have seen a strong decline in business confidence over recent weeks and we are now starting to see investment being delayed, which will have further impacts on the economy.

'Our research in the first quarter showed that two-fifths of SMEs felt that Brexit would make no difference to their business. However, our latest findings reveal a significant step-change in attitudes amongst SMEs.' The survey revealed that finding new suppliers (32 per cent of companies) was the third largest area of investment in the second quarter of this year, behind staff training (37 per cent) and office equipment (33 per cent).

Forty-six per cent of company bosses said the UK workforce lacked the skills needed to enable competitiveness and raised questions about how the UK would fare in accessing talent once it has officially exited the EU. …

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