One in four SMEs see political uncertainty as major barrier to growth


Almost one in four SMEs see political uncertainty as one of the biggest obstacles facing their business, according to a major survey of over 4,500 small firms. The latest BDRC SME Finance monitor, published today, has found that 24% of SMEs now see political uncertainty as a major barrier to their business going forward, up from 15 per cent a year ago.

Four in ten SMEs named political uncertainty, legislation and regulation or the current economic climate as one of the major barriers to their business in the coming 12 months, up from three in ten for 2017. Those SMEs that trade internationally were even more likely to be concerned about political uncertainty, with 37% of those who import and export naming it as a major barrier, up from 18% a year ago. The survey also reveals that only one in 20 (5%) of SMEs see access to finance as a major barrier to growth, while 85% of SME applications for finance are approved by lenders.

UK Finance recently launched an online guide, supported by leading business groups including the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), offering SMEs advice on how to prepare for the UK’s departure from the EU. The Let’s Talk Business website features extensive guidance on how to apply for finance, make payments overseas and manage cashflows, as well as featuring contact points and details of the various support schemes and resources available.

Stephen Pegge, managing director, Commercial Finance at UK Finance, commented: 

“This survey suggests many small businesses are increasingly concerned about the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, particularly those that trade internationally.

“Through our ‘Let’s Talk Business’ campaign, we are providing guidance to help SMEs plan for the changes ahead and consider whether they may need any additional finance.

“The banking and finance industry has the capacity to support viable businesses whatever the outcome and lenders continue to approve over 85% of finance applications from SMEs. We would therefore urge SMEs to be confident in approaching their bank and discussing any financing needs, and to get in touch early on to improve their chances of success.”

Top tips from the Let’s Talk Business guidance are:

Take time to think about how your customers and suppliers could be affected by any upcoming changes, so you are prepared for the potential impact of these.

Ask your bank or finance provider early on if you think you might need additional finance, or changes in your current facilities. There’s plenty of support available and it can be quicker and easier than you might expect. The earlier you engage with providers the better.

Look into alternative finance options. Most applications are successful, but if your first choice doesn’t work out there are many different providers out there.

Know where to go for more information to help your business. Whether you’re looking to export for the first time or wondering how to manage changes to your supply chain, the information on this site aims to provide what you need.