Brexit outlook is dividing UK businesses, finds report

UK businesses are divided over the Brexit outlook with large businesses significantly more optimistic about the future than their small business counterparts, research finds.

The Brexit outlook differs between large and small companies; six in ten (59 per cent) respondents working for large businesses expect Brexit to have a positive impact on their business, but only 35 per cent of SMEs share this view.

A quarter (25 per cent) of SME employees in the UK actually believe their situation will worsen after the UK has left the European Union, according to a study by NGA Human Resources.

Looking ahead, the majority (79 per cent) of larger UK businesses are ready to address the challenges and exploit the opportunities resulting from Brexit, whereas just over half of small businesses (56 per cent) feel the same.

Asked about their wish list for a post-Brexit economy, all UK businesses agree that access to the single market is the biggest advantage of the EU membership and one that both large businesses (64 per cent) and SMEs (54 per cent) would like to retain.

Additionally, opening up trade to new countries and markets is seen as the main advantage of Brexit for both large (70 per cent) and smaller businesses (54 per cent), followed by freedom from EU laws and regulations (both 48 per cent).

Freedom from EU legislation

UK businesses also see a break from Europe as an opportunity to free themselves from EU legislation. Businesses both large and small want more flexibility in hiring agency workers whereas only large businesses (59 per cent) want additional regulation around working hours.

The impending Brexit will result in a recruitment push for larger businesses with nearly half (49 per cent) expecting to hire more people, whereas it’s business as usual for SME owners (63 per cent) who aren’t expecting much change.

Given a choice, most large businesses (77 per cent) would rather hire non-EU workers than EU workers in a post-Brexit labour market. SMEs, on the other hand, have no preference either way.

Alison Dodd, managing director at Moorepay, says that it should be a cause for concern that the small business community is increasingly pessimistic about the Brexit outlook.

‘Most of them don’t like the uncertainty that comes with such substantial changes to the economy and the labour market.

‘However, it is important for them to remember that not everything is doom and gloom. By making preparations now and looking at how the Brexit will potentially impact their organisation, SMEs can make sure they make it through the stormy months and years ahead without putting their business at risk.’

Further reading on Brexit outlook

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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