News and Views

One in four SMEs see political uncertainty as the main barrier to their business

Written by: Stephen Pegge Managing Director, Commercial Finance, UK Finance
Published: 24 June 2019

  • One in four small and medium-sized enterprises across the UK see political uncertainty as the main obstacle facing their business
  • Concern is highest amongst smaller firms in London, where 33 per cent of SMEs see political uncertainty as the main barrier facing their business, followed by the North East (30 per cent) and West Midlands (27 per cent)
  • Banking and finance industry offers guidance to small firms to help them plan and manage the potential impact of Brexit on their business

Almost one in four (24 per cent) of small-and-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) see political uncertainty as one of the main barriers facing their business, with concern highest amongst businesses in London and the North East, according to a major regional survey.

The latest BVA BDRC SME Finance Monitor annual report for 2018, which provides a regional analysis of 18,002 firms across the UK, found the number of SMEs who see political uncertainty as one of three main barriers to their business increased to 24 per cent in Q4 2018, compared to 19 per cent in Q3 2018. This was followed by the current economic climate (22 per cent) and legislation, regulation and red tape (22 per cent). 41 per cent of all SMEs mentioned at least one of these obstacles in Q4 2018.

The survey also found that overall, most SMEs are succeeding in accessing finance from banks when they apply for it, with 80 per cent of applications being approved by lenders.

A full regional breakdown can be viewed below.

Stephen Pegge, Managing Director, Commercial Finance at UK Finance, commented:

This survey suggests many small businesses across the country are increasingly concerned about the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit.

The banking and finance industry is ready to support viable businesses whatever the outcome. Through our ‘Let’s Talk Business’ campaign, we are providing guidance to help SMEs plan for the changes ahead and consider the impact on their customers and supply chain.

Over 80 per cent of finance applications from SMEs in the UK are successful, showing that firms should be confident in approaching their bank to discuss any financing needs. We would urge any small businesses to get in touch early on to improve their chances of success.

UK Finance, the trade body representing the banking and finance sector, has launched an online guide urging small businesses to consider whether they need any additional financing to manage the potential impact of Brexit. The Let’s Talk Business website features extensive guidance on how to apply for finance, make payments overseas and manage cash flows.

Top tips from the Let’s Talk Business guide include:

  • 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.