Britain’s small and micro businesses have shrugged off an ‘anti-business’ Spring Budget and uncertainty around the triggering of Article 50, as the average value of borrowing or funding enquiry on the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers’ (NACFB) findSMEfinance platform increased by over £5,000 in the four weeks from 8 March.
While the number of finance enquiries in the month to 8 April stayed broadly the same as the preceding month, the average value of enquiries leapt to £85,755, an increase of seven per cent on the month preceding the Budget — a sign that some of the Chancellor’s less popular announcements and ongoing Brexit uncertainty haven’t dented SME appetite for growth.
This year’s Spring Budget, which among other things saw the Chancellor increase business rates and decrease tax incentives for employers taking dividends, was widely condemned as a raid on smaller UK businesses.
Despite this, several regions of the UK saw the total value of applications for finance increase significantly. The total value of enquiries in East Anglia shot up by 114 per cent, while enquiries in the North West saw an overall increase in value of 102 per cent. Even the capital, which is facing a significant increase to business rates, saw the value of total finance enquiries grow by a third (31 per cent).
Paul Goodman, chairman of the NACFB, comments, ‘The bundle of measures introduced by Mr Hammond in this year’s Spring Budget were widely hailed as bad news for the UK’s smaller firms. Despite the Chancellor rowing back on the short-sighted plan to increase national insurance contributions for the self-employed, the sharp rise in business rates for many high-street shops has delivered a hammer blow to businesses around the country.
‘Nevertheless, despite this gloomy outlook, the UK’s smaller businesses have proved to be remarkably resilient to some of the Budget’s more punitive measures and Article 50 uncertainty generally. In such a climate, it’s encouraging to see overall finance enquiries holding firm and UK SMEs still turning to experienced brokers for assistance.
‘In fact, several regions of the UK have seen a massive uplift in funding enquiries – even in London, where business rate hikes were expected to hit the hardest, small businesses in the capital have continued to show an appetite for growth.’
Further reading on business borrowing
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