With an EU referendum a very real prospect in 2016, research suggests that many small and medium-sized businesses are concerned about a potential Brexit…
Growth key for SMEs
The findings come from a study conducted by the insurer RSA, in which they interviewed just over 1,000 small and medium-sized business owners. Of that number, more than 80 per cent suggested that European markets were important to future growth, with 24 per cent going so far as to call themselves a ‘European business’.
Over half (56 per cent) complained that uncertainty around the European referendum is already holding back growth, while 55 per cent suggested the government is not offering enough support when it comes to dealing with a potential Brexit.
Elsewhere, over two thirds (66 per cent) wanted greater clarity on the UK’s future role in Europe now.
Credit agency concern
And it would appear that these small business owners concerns aren’t totally unfounded. Last summer, Moody’s and Standard & Poor - two leading credit rating agencies - changed the UK’s outlook to ‘negative’ amid concern around the EU referendum, stating that Brexit specifically would ‘worsen the UK’s trade position and, through that, medium-term growth.’
Eight months on and their opinion remains much the same, despite David Cameron’s best efforts for treaty change. Insistent in her agency’s position, Kathrin Muehlbronner, senior vice president at Moody’s, recently stated that “a decision to leave the EU would be negative credit for the UK economy”.
But are small businesses really that bothered?
“Currency union or membership of the European Union are not the issues which keep our members awake at night” has suggested Colin Borland, the Scotland head of external affairs for the Federation of Small Businesses in the past, arguing that “they are much more worried about bread-and-butter issues, and keeping their heads above water.”
Given the day-to-day realities of running a small business it’s easy to see where he’s coming from, however, we’re sure there’s some pretty strong opinions out there about the good and bad Brexit could bring your business…
We’d love to know your opinion, so tell us in the comments section below.