Brexit puts more than third of UK small businesses at risk of closure

More than two fifths of UK SMEs claim that Brexit will or already has resulted in redundancies

EXCLUSIVE: More than a third (37 per cent) of UK small businesses claim Brexit could result in their business closing, according to research.

More than two fifths (44 per cent) of SMEs say that Brexit will or already has driven their businesses to lay off employees, according to research by business payments firm Equals Money.

More than three quarters (76 per cent) of 1,050 SMEs surveyed say foreign suppliers have increased prices, and more specifically, a third (33 per cent) say suppliers have increased their prices by more than 10 per cent. More than half (53 per cent) say that Brexit could or has resulted in higher shipping costs.

>See also: Half of small business exporters struggling with new rules post Brexit

Tomorrow (June 23) will mark five years since the Brexit referendum took place and the UK voted to leave the European Union by a majority of 52 per cent. Brexit officially came into force in January 2021, but it wasn’t until May 1 2021 that the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) came into effect. The free trade agreement now governs the relationship between the EU and the UK.

>See also: A quarter of small exporters cease selling to EU since Brexit transition end

However, not every small business was downbeat about Brexit.

Nearly half of respondents (46 per cent) said that the new EU-UK trading agreement could or has already resulted in them selling more and more than a third (35 per cent) said Brexit had positively affected their business.

SME Brexit Support Fund

The government has announced a grant of up to £2,000 for training and professional advice related to imports and exports via the SME Brexit Support Fund, yet more than a third (37 per cent) of respondents had not even heard of it, despite more than two fifths of SMEs need help exporting to the EU (45 per cent) and importing from the EU (42 per cent).

A further third (33 per cent) expressed a need to better understand the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, while nearly a quarter (23 per cent) require clarification on the rules of origin for duty-free trade.

Jeremy Thomson-Cook, chief economist Equals Money, said: “It was always going to be a challenging to get all businesses to transition to new regulations and processes, but to have SMEs say they’re battling increased prices and making potential redundancies, on top of the impact of the pandemic, has the potential to depress the UK’s recovery from the pandemic.

“SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy, so we must give them all they need to thrive in a post-Brexit world. That includes government advice and support, financial service providers lending their expertise and providing better service, and all companies involved in exports and imports being clear on price and margins.”

Further reading

Just 25% of cash earmarked for £20m Brexit Support Fund actually applied for

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...

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