SMEs call for more support from Government

Small firms are losing faith in Government business support plans as the impact of Brexit begins to bite, according to new research.

The latest Enterprise Index Research from accountancy group Smith & Williamson has found that 65% of business leaders believe they lack Government support.

The Enterprise Index is a quarterly barometer that tests the views of 200 small business leaders and entrepreneurs. The latest findings show that 74% say political uncertainty is negatively impacting their business, 59% say the impact of Brexit is real and two-thirds do not expect the economy to improve over the next 12 months.

"Businesses are suffering," said Guy Rigby, head of entrepreneurial services a Smith & Williamson. "There was a belief that the Government was getting to grips with the scale-up business agenda, and the benefits this offers the economy, but progress appears to have stalled."

Rigby welcomed Government initiatives such as the Scale-Up Taskforce and the Patient Capital Review but he said, "as yet, there have been no meaningful developments" for businesses.

"Each individual appointment or development seems to be piecemeal and there appears to be no coordinated strategy or plan on how our entrepreneurs can be supported."

However, despite ongoing concerns about the economy, the Index findings show that many entrepreneurs still have faith in their own business; 62% say they are optimistic about their prospects in the next 12 months and 58% are planning to increase headcount in the next quarter.

"The global economy is experiencing a sustained period of growth. However, there are signs that Britain is beginning to lag behind," said Rigby. "While business leaders tend to be a remarkably resilient group, they should take the opportunity of a benign world economy and Sterling weakness to explore export markets."

Also this week, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned that the UK economy is "locked onto a low growth trajectory" and has called on the Government to do more to support growing businesses.

Suren Thiru, BCC head of economics, said: "Crucially, the focus of next month's budget must be on supporting business growth, including addressing the escalating burden of up-front business costs."

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