One third of SMEs delay growth and investment, citing Brexit uncertainty

8% of SMEs claim to have already made people redundant in face of looming Brexit deadline, double the percentage looking to hire

More Brexit blues as the country dangles in the wind of uncertainty, I’m afraid.

Over a third of business owners (35%) have delayed growth plans and investment in their SMEs, citing Brexit uncertainty as making it difficult to plan ahead.

Eight per cent say they are already making redundancies to cut costs, double the percentage of SMEs looking to hire new staff.

Nearly one third (31 per cent) claim to have felt negative impact even before the UK has officially left the European Union, according to research by small business insurer Simply Business.

Even worse, one fifth of SMEs (19 per cent) claim they are on the brink of shutting down their business due to lack of support and guidance around Brexit.

And two in five SMEs (40 per cent) expect to feel the headwinds of Brexit before the end of this year, even if they are becalmed right now.

Simply Business interviewed 1,200 SME owners across the UK.

One of the vaunted benefits of Brexit is supposed to be an upsurge in exports once EU-wide tariffs are removed. However, just one fifth (20 per cent) of small business owners are currently looking to explore different markets.

And only eight per cent are predicting that their business will benefit from Brexit at all.

Given that SMEs constitute 99 per cent of British businesses, this must give government cause for concern.

Bea Montoya, COO of Simply Business, said: “There isn’t a blueprint for what happens after Brexit, which is particularly challenging for the UK’s hardworking SMEs.”

Yesterday, Bibby Financial Services revealed that more than half (57 per cent) of SMEs believe the UK economy will fall into a Brexit recession this year.

According to the latest Bibby SME confidence tracker, the average amount of capital SMEs plan to invest in their own business has fallen for the fourth consecutive quarter — from £103,648 in Q1 2018 to £64,600 Q1 2019.

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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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