Small businesses feel ignored by political decision making

Red tape and a lack of access to funding from investors and banks are the main barriers to growth ambitions for UK SMEs.

Small businesses feel ignored by their countries political decision making, according to new research by Sage. In a year of political instability and changes across the globe, the research reveals that 63 per cent of small businesses globally said they were unaware of government efforts to fight their corner or felt under-represented by politicians.

Sage’s research – which took in the political decision making views of over 5,500 entrepreneurs across 19 countries worldwide – also finds that businesses in the UK are concerned about the global economy, with 61 per cent considering it is less stable than six months ago, yet 40 per cent haven’t done anything to safeguard their businesses against this instability.

In comparison to businesses in the rest of the world, business confidence is comparatively low in the UK. Just 37 per cent feel positive about their business’s prospects over the next six months, compared to a global average of 52 per cent.

Political instability is a concern

The top three concerns for UK businesses are currency fluctuations (19 per cent), bureaucracy (16 per cent), and joint thirdly lack of relevant skills and access to funding (both 11 per cent), demonstrating the knock-on effect Brexit could be having.

However, Brexit provokes a mixed reaction from UK small businesses. Although 38 per cent say it will have a negative impact on their business, 35 per cent of say it will have a positive impact.

In line with the global outlook, almost half of UK small businesses (49 per cent) believe that the government can best help them through business support e.g. export opportunities, grants.

Stephen Kelly, CEO of Sage, thinks that business builders are the heroes of the economy – working night and day to create two thirds of all new jobs in most developed economies.

Kelly adds, ‘But so often, when the world’s policy makers discuss the economic picture, these entrepreneurs are excluded from the discussion. They toil away long after the rest of us have gone home, making personal sacrifices to grow their businesses, to support their families and their communities – especially during the busy holiday season.

‘Sage is launching the Forum for Business Builders, and is holding events like today’s to make sure the issues facing the world’s small businesses are recognised, debated and resolved.’

Jacqueline de Rojas, managing director for Northern Europe, Sage adds, ‘Entrepreneurs and business builders are the powerhouse of the UK economy. But the research is telling us that a lack of political decision making stability is having a negative impact on their confidence, and potential currency fluctuations over the next six months could prove to be a significant barrier going into 2017.

‘We believe that by giving these businesses a voice, like we have today in Ireland, and encouraging them to embrace technology and the cloud, they will be far better equipped to negotiate the changing landscape whatever changes a post-Brexit world brings.

‘Our hope is that this approach will also be adopted by the UK Government so that we can all work together to help UK businesses knock down the barriers holding them back.’

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