Above cutting red tape and increased exports as a result of a weaker pound, the top opportunity considered by SMEs to result from Brexit would be a perceived obligation from the UK Government to do more to support British businesses. This is the latest finding in a report by Hitachi Capital Business Finance.
At a time when industry leaders have complained of Philip Hammond’s failure to provide the fiscal stimulus that they had been expecting for manufacturers, calling it a wasted opportunity to get behind Theresa May’s industrial strategy, these figures paint a picture that SMEs are placing enormous trust on the government to achieve growth.
One in five (22%) of the UK’s SMEs think that the UK Government will be obliged to do more to support British businesses as a result of the UK voting to leave the EU. This rises to just under one in three (32%) in the Transport and Distribution sector, and one in four (27%) in the Manufacturing sector.
Less red tape was nevertheless a key opportunity for 21% of SMEs, and for some sectors the top opportunity – Transport and Distribution (34%) and Agriculture (31%). The same was true for the weak pound being good news for exporting – 37% of the Manufacturing sector were hopeful of the opportunities this presents.
The proportion of SMEs that felt there were no opportunities for their business as a result of Brexit varied considerably by their sector. Among the least enthusiastic about the vote to leave were the Media and Marketing, Medical and Education sectors with over half saying there would not be any opportunities presented (55%, 51% and 51% respectively).
By contrast, there were half as many SMEs in the Manufacturing sector (24%) that could claim there were no opportunities for their business.
Gavin Wraith-Carter, Managing Director at Hitachi Capital Business Finance comments: “The Government’s handling of the exit negotiations with the EU will be monitored closely by SMEs across the UK, yet it was something of a surprise to us to see in our research how many are relying on an increase in UK Government support. Hitachi Capital Business Finance has been working with SMEs for over 30 years; we know that SMEs have the ability to both weather storms and take advantage of fair winds.
“Perhaps more characteristically, regardless of how they might have voted in the referendum themselves, 51% of SMEs cite reasons to be optimistic about the decision to leave the UK, rising to 70% in some sectors. This shows that the majority are rolling up their sleeves, adapting to the situation and looking to grow nevertheless.”