With just over two weeks to go before the UK votes on EU membership, and after a build up of over a year, new research has shown that the process has already taken its toll on UK SMEs.
Capitalise.com and PKF issued new research this week showing that over 40% of SME respondents admitted that the looming referendum has impacted current investment decisions, with nearly a fifth already focusing less on business growth in Europe. A further 15% indicated that they are postponing entering into new business relationships, ahead of the vote on June 23rd.
Confusion still reigns
And it’s clear that uncertainty among the general public is mirrored in the small business space, with only one third of those surveyed saying they had a high level understanding of the possible implications of a Brexit. To counter some of that uncertainty, more than one in six has contacted their accountant for Brexit advice.
Paul Surtees, MD and co-founder of Capitalise, said of the results: “There have been countless forecasts on a future outside of the EU but we have uncovered that the threat alone is having an impact.
“While we would expect confidence amongst SMEs to be shaken, to hear that one in three has already changed its investment strategy is indicative of just how fragile our small business economy is when faced with such uncertainty.
“Whichever way the vote falls, small businesses that have access to business advice and the financial levers they might need to call on at short notice, will be best placed to weather the referendum storm.”
Chris Clay, Business Adviser at PKF’s London office, said: “These results don’t just reveal the financial impact of the EU referendum over the last few months. They demonstrate SMEs growing requirement for counsel and advice on a wide array of issues.
“With the most prominent economists struggling to forecast the ultimate impact of ‘in’ or ‘out’, the accountancy profession is under pressure to work more closely than ever with clients and be a true extension to their business.”
Business secretary Sajid Javid has announced plans to join forces with a number of innovative SMEs to support the Remain campaign.