European uncertainty delays UK SME investement, survey finds

ALMOST A THIRD of UK SMEs have delayed their investment plans following problems in Greece and subsequent uncertainty in Europe.

That’s the finding of the latest Smith & Williamson’s quarterly Enterprise Index survey which showed that macro-economic issues, such as a potential Grexit, a lack of confidence in the global economy and UK challenges such new dividend tax rules, led to a five point drop to 114.4, from its record high of 119.4.

Guy Rigby, head of entrepreneurial services at Smith & Williamson, said: “Changes to dividends, the introduction of the new National Living Wage and a less generous than expected annual investment allowance in Osborne’s first Conservative Budget were not well received by business owners. While still remaining high, at 70%, belief in the government’s promise to support private enterprise dropped 10% as a growing number of SME owners felt they lacked support.”

“Other factors undermining business confidence include the prospect of a US and UK interest rate rise, a potential 2016 EU referendum and volatility in global stock markets, sparked by China amidst concerns around global growth. These issues, which have been well aired in the press, are trickling down and undermining confidence amongst UK SMEs. The real question is whether business confidence will continue to decline as we approach the end of 2015.”

Over 90% of the 150 participants said they would consider using crowdfunding as a means to secure investment, while a similar proportion at 87% of SME owners thought the government should provide more support to help businesses export.

The results show that an overhaul and promotion of government export information is needed as many are unaware that research and development (R&D) activity undertaken by UK SMEs to enable them to export would attract tax credits.

“This can be helpful as part of a suite of financing options that will make it easier for businesses to trade internationally,” added Rigby.


Related reading