UK Finance is today launching a national campaign encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to prepare for the potential changes and opportunities brought about by the UK’s departure from the EU. The “Let’s Talk Business” campaign, supported by leading business organisations including the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), calls on those firms who have not yet done so to consider the implications for their business.
The campaign emphasises that banks retain the capacity and commitment to support SMEs, encouraging businesses across the UK to speak to their finance provider early to discuss any potential funding requirements. Even those businesses which don’t export or import directly should consider how they could be impacted, for example if their customers and suppliers are affected by changes to current trading arrangements. The campaign also encourages businesses to consider how to maximise growth and capitalise on the opportunities ahead.
An online guide is being launched to provide a “one stop shop” to help SMEs prepare, featuring extensive guidance, contact points and details of the various support schemes and resources available. This guidance will be updated on an ongoing basis and promoted to SMEs across the country by UK Finance and the business groups involved, as well as through a regional roadshow over the coming months. UK Finance and the business groups will also meet regularly to discuss how best to provide ongoing support and guidance to SMEs.
Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance, said:
“With just five weeks to go until the UK’s exit from the EU, we are encouraging businesses who haven’t yet done so to think about how they might be impacted. The banking and finance industry has the capacity to support viable businesses whatever the outcome.
“The Let’s Talk Business campaign, supported by leading business groups, will provide extensive guidance to help SMEs prepare for the changes ahead and consider any financing needs. Any business customers who may have additional financing requirements should begin engaging with their provider now, as the earlier they do so the easier it will be.”
National chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Mike Cherry, said:
“With less than 40 days to go until the UK leaves the EU on the 29th March, it’s important for small businesses to prepare for the pressures that may well affect them, especially if we end up with a no-deal Brexit on that date.
“As part of that preparation, we recommend that small business owners and the self-employed talk to their banks or other finance providers as they may well need help to extend overdrafts, seek extra finance or secure extra flexibility for repayment plans.
“Thinking through different scenarios, looking into alternative finance options and consulting information hubs are also useful steps to take at this stage. FSB has published a Small Business Brexit Pack on our website to help those who have yet to plan, but no small business owner can do this in isolation. By taking action now, you can put yourself in a better position to manage a changing environment.”
Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:
“We’ve long been calling on businesses to do everything they can to prepare for the possible changes that Brexit may bring. While this can be taxing on the time and resources of SMEs, and all the more difficult given the ongoing political impasse, firms should be considering how the UK’s departure from the EU could impact different areas of their operations.
"Last year we released our Business Brexit Checklist to encourage companies to do a Brexit ‘health check’ and to help them plan for the future, and continue to update our materials to help firms prepare for all eventualities. Time spent thinking through the implications of Brexit now, will ensure firms are best placed to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”
Flora Hamilton, CBI financial services director, said:
“It is critical that small and medium-sized firms have access to the information they need to ensure they are prepared for the UK’s departure from the EU.
“We welcome UK Finance’s initiative to provide critical information on accessing finance, and encourage firms to think about how the flow of finance to their business could be impacted.”
Top tips from the guidance are:
Take time to think about how your customers and suppliers could be affected by any upcoming changes, so you are prepared for any potential impact.
Ask your bank and finance provider, customers and suppliers early on if you think you might need additional finance, or changes in your current arrangements. The earlier you engage the easier this will be.
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. Use relevant guidance to consider what plans you should be making and actions you should be taking.