Why UK SMEs are 'not worried about the impact of Article 50'

Whatever your view on last year’s referendum, there is one thing that we can all agree on; the decision to leave the EU will have a profound effect on businesses in the UK.

While we cannot truly know what the impact will be, eight months after the vote, Teresa May triggered Article 50 on 29th of March and predictions for the future have begun in earnest, starting with the news that confidence in investing was plummeting as fast as the pound.

But that’s not the whole story.

We commissioned research to get a real feel for how the SME market was feeling about Brexit and the triggering of Article 50 and the response was unequivocal. It’s ‘business as usual’ for UK SMEs, with just 13% of them expressing concern about the impact it will have on their operation.

We also found that just 14% of respondents are thinking about Brexit planning with almost half (45%) of SMEs feeling it is too early to tell if Brexit will negatively affect them.

It seems that although UK businesses have a long list of challenges that keep them awake at night, the potential problems posed by Brexit simply aren’t featuring in their thinking.

Could it be that they have more pressing issues to think about?

We’ve known anecdotally for a long time that cashflow issues are one of the biggest concerns for SMEs and our research confirmed this; our research shows that over 50% of SMEs have concerns about meeting customers’ needs and ensuring sales volumes and cashflow.

It’s a fact of life that businesses need access to working capital to survive so it’s alarming that this remains a real problem for SMEs, which make up 99% of the business population in the UK.

We believe that funding for SMEs should be fast, flexible and fair as a matter of course, and that this is the issue for the industry to discuss rather than trying to second guess what might happen in two years’ time.

UK SMEs are run by inherently pragmatic people, many of whom have weathered the storm of the recession by making good business decisions and keeping a cool head. There is no reason why the news of Article 50 and Brexit should be any different; our research shows us that SMEs are in fact taking a calm approach to everything and concentrating on the day-to-day running of their businesses.


[1] ICAEW, Business Confidence Monitor, March 2017

[2] Department for Business, Innovation and Skills


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