UK SMEs still undecided about Chancellor Philip Hammond

Chancellor Philip Hammond needs to dramatically build his profile with UK SMEs in order to restore trust.

UK’s SMEs reveal a noticeable lack of trust and familiarity with Chancellor Philip Hammond, according to new research.

The poll of 505 senior decision makers in SMEs across the UK ,undertaken by strategic consultancy Lansons, reveals that whilst 27 per cent say they trust Philip Hammond to handle the economy, a fifth (20 per cent) still trust George Osborne more and 34 per cent trust neither of them.

This lack of trust may be spearheaded by SMEs lack of familiarity with Hammond in his role as Chancellor of the Exchequer. The insight reveals more than half of SMEs are unfamiliar with him (57 per cent), whilst two in five (41 per cent) say they feel familiar with him in some way.

With SMEs still reeling from the Brexit vote just 151 days ago, they are very clear about what the most important issue the Chancellor needs to tackle over the next 12 months in Wednesday’s statement. More than a third (35 per cent) say the most important issue is medium term economic certainty for the markets, followed by the cost of living, which is expected to rise next year following warnings from Mark Carney last week.

An increase in the income tax personal allowance (36 per cent) and cuts to fuel duty (22 per cent) are also the proposals SMEs most want to see announced on Wednesday.

James Dowling, head of public policy at Lansons thinks the country’s small businesses are looking for a lead, yet 57 per cent of them say they are unfamiliar with the Chancellor – the man charged with steering the economy.

Downling adds, ‘The Autumn Statement is an opportunity to change this. If he is to succeed, Chancellor Philip Hammond needs to use it dramatically to build his profile and confidence among SMEs.’

SMEs views pre and post Brexit vote on whether the country will enter a recession remain largely unchanged. Before the vote on the 23 June, 43 per cent believed the economy would slow down if the UK left Europe, and this remains largely unchanged at 41 per cent.

Whilst 26 per cent believed there would be a recession before the Brexit vote, this has also dipped slightly to 24 per cent. However, in total two thirds (65 per cent) of SMEs still believe the economy will be negatively affected by the UK’s vote to leave.

Further reading on the Autumn Statement

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