Ninety-four percent of small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) operating in the UK believe the government is ignoring their concerns over Brexit, new research has revealed.
In a survey of 653 SMEs conducted by accountancy firm Moore Stephens, more than half (51%) of respondents said their single biggest concern for 2018 is how Brexit negotiations will affect them, far ahead of skills shortages (41%), cyber attacks (29%) and increased regulation (28%).
When asked about their specific Brexit-related worries, 38% of SMEs said that the introduction of trade tariffs was their biggest concern.
Meanwhile, 30% fear a loss of EU labour, while 23% are concerned about loss of European customers. Only 33% said that they had no concerns around Brexit.
Moore Stephens partner Mark Lamb commented: “Whilst banks and other big businesses have the influence to lobby the Government for their own special Brexit clauses, there are concerns that small businesses will be forgotten about.
“Business owners are hugely concerned about what Brexit might mean for them. The Government must take their needs seriously when negotiating the exit deal.
“Brexit could potentially impact an enormous number of issues affecting owner-managed businesses in the UK, from import and export costs, to access to labour, and grants and subsidies. Businesses have been given very little clarity so far on what effect Brexit might have on any of these issues.
“Businesses thrive on certainty – it allows them to invest, scale up, take on more orders and expand their workforces. If the Government does not give them clear indications of what they can expect once the UK has left the European Union, it will be very difficult for many of them to invest in their growth,” Lamb continued.
“In their view, certainty has been in short supply during the Brexit process.”