Research from Hitachi Capital Business Finance has revealed that three in ten SMEs (29%) do not believe that the UK government will do anything in the near future to help their businesses grow.
The poll asked owners and directors of over 1,200 SMEs nationwide about their expectations in the current administration.
The research found that of the businesses which anticipated a period of decline in the next six months, 38% were holding out faith that a new government would reverse the decision on Brexit. This figure rose to 41% amongst the SMEs that describe themselves as ‘struggling to survive’.
Just 12% of SMEs anticipating a period of contraction or decline in the next six months believed that the new government will deliver strong leadership on managing the UK’s exit from the EU. This is in contrast with the 29% of SMEs anticipating growth. Similarly, a mere 13% of the SMEs anticipating decline had faith the government will be able to negotiate trade deals beyond the EU, in comparison with 29% of those anticipating growth.
While Brexit prompted strong opinions amongst survey respondents, the key demands from SMEs were a reduction of red tape (28%) and lower taxes (24%). These were the priorities across all the sectors and regions asked, with the exception of Scotland. Here, a clear and final position on Scottish independence was the top priority, with 32% believing the government could deliver this.
Gavin Wraith-Carter, managing director at Hitachi Capital Business Finance said: “These findings should be considered in the context that SME confidence levels pre- and post-election remained broadly the same. SMEs are the lifeblood of this country and we can see their strength and resilience in our results. Small businesses are not solely dependent on the actions of the government in order to achieve growth, rather it is one of a number of external factors to which they constantly adjust and adapt. Clearly Europe remains a top priority to a greater or lesser extent for all SMEs and many will be particularly sensitive to how the negotiations are handled.
“Beyond Europe, this shopping list for the government gives a clear picture of what issues they would like to be tackled so they can continue to be the driving force of the British economy.”