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End the Brexit impasse and get back to business, FSB urges

The FSB has urged the new government to secure a pro-business Brexit and get back to addressing the domestic challenges facing the UK‘s 5.6 million small firms.

  • Staff Reporter
  • July 17, 2019
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FSB’s Mike Cherry has highlighted the impacts of sustained uncertainty on small business confidence, urging the incoming administration to “set out its plans for securing a pro-business Brexit – one that encompasses a comprehensive deal, enabling an orderly withdrawal and substantial transition period".

“Resigning ourselves to a chaotic no-deal Brexit in a little over three months’ time is not helpful. Doing so risks real harm to smaller businesses, which are the least likely to be in a position to respond to economic shocks.”

He stressed that small firms can only help to close the UK’s productivity gap when they have the political certainty required to take risks, innovate and expand.

Without this, he warned “the UK risks gambling away its reputation as a secure place to invest, and small businesses, many of which do not have the luxury of moving operations to other countries, will suffer as a result.”   

Mr Cherry flagged that small business owners want to see the government secure a pro-business withdrawal from the EU so it can return to the issues that are front of mind for them: late payments and tax burdens, as well as spiralling employment, regulatory and compliance costs.

Looking ahead to the upcoming spending review, he stressed the importance of business rates reform and investment in digital connectivity.

The latest Small Business Index (SBI) shows export intentions tumbled in Q2 of this year, with fewer than one in three (28%) small exporters expecting to increase international sales. According to the ONS, the UK’s international trade deficit widened by £20 billion to more than £45 billion in the twelve months to May 2019.

Previous FSB findings showed that one in five small UK businesses export, but it explained that this proportion could be doubled with the right support, including export vouchers, tax credits and small business provisions in new FTAs, including dedicated small business chapters.     

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