Responding to the Prime Minister’s speech to Conservative Party Conference, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry said:
“This is crunch time in the Brexit process and it is vital that the Prime Minister finds not just words but a viable way forward to secure a deal and a period of transition.
“The UK’s small businesses are crying out for an end to the Brexit paralysis, which is stifling growth and strangling progress on important domestic priorities.
“Leaving the EU with no deal at the end of the month is a frightening prospect for many small firms, whose successful contribution to the economy is based upon strategy and forward-planning, not dropping off the end of a cliff and hoping for the best.
“Small firms have been clear all long – an unwanted, chaotic no-deal Brexit will be damaging and disruptive.”
FSB’s latest research shows that four-in-ten small firms (39%) believe this scenario on 31 October will negatively hit their business. Only one-in-ten think it will be a positive outcome.
Mike Cherry added: “Securing a pro-business deal, complete with the hard fought transition period, is of huge importance for so many of our small firms that don’t feel like they are able to prepare for a no-deal Brexit on 31 October. Nearly two thirds of those that will be negatively impacted by this outcome say they can’t prepare.
“A deal will not only bring time to prepare for whatever the longer-term Brexit outcome is, it will also steady the pound. With just under half (46%) of small firms saying sterling volatility has hit them negatively, this stability will be a much needed shot in the arm.”
“It is regrettable and blinkered that the Prime Minister failed to mention small businesses at all in today’s speech. The UK’s 5.6 million small businesses are the backbone of this country and its economy. They embody a can-do attitude of ambition, innovation and hard graft. They account for 60 per cent of private sector employment. Their entrepreneurship and resilience will be vital if Brexit is to be a success. It is time the government stepped forward to make it clear that it is on their side.
“The upcoming Budget and Queen’s Speech will be opportunities for the government to prove it understands and supports small business entrepreneurs and the issues they face – the choking effect of business rates, the scourge of poor payment practices by bigger companies to their small business suppliers, and the devastating impact of business crime which is regarded nowhere near as seriously as it should be.
“The Chancellor’s announcements on infrastructure this week are welcome. From roads to broadband, investing in infrastructure is vital in improving productivity. It is a national embarrassment in 2019 that one-in-three small businesses are being held back because they don’t have a decent broadband connection, and this week’s pledges need to become reality.
“Political parties are either on the side of the millions of motivated voters who run their own business, or they’re against them. The Prime Minister needs to make it clear whose side he is on, or he risks a crisis of confidence among the prosperity-generating small business community.”