Fears for future of small businesses revealed by English ICA survey

A survey has revealed that 66% of respondents believed it would be harder for small and medium sized enterprises to survive in 2000 than 1999, despite a expectation of overall economic improvement.

Reasons for this concern included fears over tax rises, interest rate rises, the strong pound, excessive regulation, skills shortage and employment costs.

56% believed that the tax burden on small businesses would increase;

85% thought interest rates would be higher by the end of the year;

52% saw Sterling strengthening against the Euro;

Over 90% felt new legislation and regulation would be a negative influence on business profitability;

81% considered that skills shortages, and 83% considered that employment costs would have a negative impact on business.

Concerns were particularly strong for the retail and manufacturing sectors.

These views were in stark contrast to a majority (53%) perception that the overall condition of the economy will improve in 2000 with e-commerce, and financial services being two of the main drivers.

Commenting on the results, Robin Vaughn of the institute’s Board for Chartered Accountants in Business said: ‘Through their work at almost every level of UK Plc, Chartered Accountants can offer a unique insight into the nations economic prospects. The message we’re getting from our members is that optimism about the general state of the economy is tempered by high – and rising – concern over the burden placed on SMEs.’

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