Small businesses could be swayed on Europe


Company owners do not feel fully informed about the EU referendum, a study from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) finds. 

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Company owners do not feel fully informed about the EU referendum, a study from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) finds. 

Some 42 per cent of the small business EU referendum vote could still be swayed, according to a snap poll of 4,000 respondents. 

When asked what members needed more information on, almost half said the economic impact on the UK, 38 per cent noted they needed more detail on the administrative burden of complying with regulation and 33 per cent asked for more detail on the cost of EU membership.

Mike Cherry, FSB policy director says that the 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.

‘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.’

Top areas small businesses say will influence how they will vote in the EU referendum include EU governance (eg EU decision-making), free movement of people (eg of EU labour, travel, tourism), cost of EU membership, and the administrative burden on businesses as a result of complying with regulation.

The economic impact on the UK, trade with EU countries, access to the single market and trade with non-EU countries are also key.

Brendan Flattery, president of Sage Europe says, ‘This research confirms everything we already knew about the referendum debate; nobody is taking the time to educate or support small businesses on how a vote either way will affect them.  

These businesses make up over 98 per cent of all businesses and create two thirds of the jobs in this country. Both sides of the in/out divide should be helping small businesses understand the issues so they can make a fully informed decision.’

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