Business development ยท 3 May 2016

Vast majority of small business owners worried about Brexit

Britain goes to the polls to vote on EU membership on 23 June
More than four-in-five British small firm leaders think a Brexit from the EU would have a negative impact on their business, according to new research by accountancy firm Smith & Williamson.

These new findings represent a sharp increase on the 13 per cent of owners who were concerned about the prospect of Britain leaving Europe a year ago ??and the same report found entrepreneurs? confidence in the UK economy to be at a 12-month low.

Guy Rigby, head of entrepreneurial services at Smith & Williamson, said: ?When we first sought business owners? thoughts on Brexit, the Conservative Party had just been elected and a potential Brexit felt quite remote.? However, as we approach the referendum date, business leaders are seemingly more apprehensive about the prospect of leaving the EU.?

An additional survey carried out in April 2016 by YouGov on behalf of Clarus Consulting found that 43 per cent of small business owners do not think they know enough about the issues to make a confident, informed decision when Britain goes to the polls on 23 June.

The report also suggested that three-quarters of small business leaders will be basing their vote on personal rather than professional considerations.

?One of the major issues for businesses appears to be a lack of information ? with nearly four-in-ten respondents saying they still don?t feel they have enough information on which to base their vote. This is perhaps pushing executives towards making a personal or emotional decision rather than basing it on business factors,? said Clarus Consulting partner Zak Meziane.

Recent projections published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) suggested that UK GDP would be three per cent lower by 2020 if Britain leaves Europe than if it remains in the EU.

?Leaving Europe would impose a Brexit tax on generations to come. Instead of funding public services, this tax would be a pure deadweight loss, with no economic benefit,? said OECD secretary-general Angel Gurr?a.

Despite the uncertainty, the Smith & Williamson research also revealed that half of Britain?s small business owners expect their firm to grow in the next year ? while half think access to finance became easier over the last three months.

?This improvement highlights an entrepreneurial self-belief in spite of broader market headwinds,? said Rigby.

To find out what Small Business Decision Maker 2016 Hermann Hauser thinks about the Brexit vote, check out this interview.

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Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics ? as well as running a tutoring company.

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