EU: Small firms yet to pick a side ahead of referendum » SMEInsider

EU: Small firms yet to pick a side ahead of referendum

Almost half of small firms could still be swayed on which way to vote in the EU referendum, research published today (26 February) has shown.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) polled more than 4,000 SME owners about their stance on the UK’s membership of the EU, the first business survey since the date of the referendum was announced.

Some 42 per cent of respondents said they had not yet been pinned down on a decision. More than half (52 per cent) said they do not feel informed enough to pick a side.


Clarification needed

They were also asked what issues surrounding the UK’s position in Europe they still needed clarification on. The main points were:

  • Economic impact on the UK – 48 per cent
  • Administrative burden of complying with regulation – 38 per cent
  • Details on the cost of EU membership – 33 per cent

Mike Cherry, policy director for the FSB, said: “This high response from FSB members shows first and foremost the issues that will impact how smaller businesses will vote in the EU referendum.

“Today’s wide-ranging research sends a very clear message on what information small businesses want from both official campaigns once they are appointed by the Electoral Commission.


‘Game on’

“Now the date is confirmed, it is clearly game on for both sides on this debate. It is crucial that once appointed, both the ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ campaign groups tackle this information deficit.

“Smaller businesses want to know the practical impact that remaining within or leaving the EU would have on their firms. FSB will be at the forefront of this effort on behalf of our members, to get the information they need before they cast their vote.”

As for the top 10 issues that would ultimately sway SME owners on which way to vote, they were:

  1. EU governance – 75 per cent
  2. Free movement of people – 70 per cent
  3. Cost of EU membership – 69 per cent
  4. Administrative burden on businesses as a result of complying with regulation – 68 per cent
  5. Economic impact on the UK – 64 per cent
  6. Trade with EU countries – 53 per cent
  7. Access to the single market – 49 per cent
  8. Trade with non-EU countries – 48 per cent
  9. EU funding – 42 per cent
  10. Competition – 35 per cent