FSB: UK SME confidence is decreasing
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), say that UK SME confidence has taken a blow in the last few months of 2017 with many businesses concerned about the impact of Brexit and the ongoing uncertainty regarding negotiations.
One issue of particular concern is related to costs. The survey says that three quarters of firms are experiencing a rise in operating costs versus a year ago. The relative weakness of sterling is a key issue there.
The FSB chairman Mike Cherry said: “While the swift agreement of a transitional arrangement and an ambitious free trade agreement with the European Union are absolutely critical, it’s spiralling costs, weak growth and flagging consumer demand at home that are front of mind for small firms day to day.”
In the UK as a whole, a record one in seven small business owners are planning to downsize, close or sell their business over the coming three months, the survey found.
It is worth noting that the FSB surveyed 1,084 members of its members between November 9th and 25th and that was before before Prime Minister Theresa May reached the agreement with the EU in December to move on to more detailed trade talks. But there are still a great many hurdles to overcome in the discussions in the weeks and months to come before March 2019 and plenty of questions remain unanswered about how Brexit will impact small businesses.
How would you say your confidence is at the moment? Online is thriving but are you bullish?
We are doing well with sales up alot in December that is usually a quiet time of year for us, due to the season nature of our business. Infact sales up are up generally throughout the year. We have seen costs go up, but not just due to Brexit, changes in China have forced up alot of prices as tougher anti pollution laws make some of our supplier either put up prices or stop producing things altogether, creating shortage and price increases.
I do agree that customers are wary right now, but let us not forget that once again poorly controlled lending has pushed public debt to record levels ( do we not learn?) and that this has also had an effect as talks of morgage rate increases etc have suddenly frightened people. All in all it is all to easy to blame everything on Brexit, but it is far more complex. As for the exchange rate, yes it took a hit, but for along time it has been said that Sterling was over valued and so a ‘correction’ was in the pipe line at some point Brexit or not.
What we need right now is some sign of stability and progress. The beginning of the brexit process was a shambles from the start… From BOTH sides. We were bogged down by infighting and a opposition that were all over the place or just doing whatever they could to make life hadr for teh governement for political gain, theis gave the EU a great chance to play the school bully and just be as stubbon as it could. Both approaches have damaged business on both sides of the water. I just hope that now the show and posturing have passed that the serious nature of securing a good deal for all involved gets under way. Only then will businesses start to feel like they have some kind of framework to plan ahead on.
Our plan is to hold back on any major changes, look at existing structures and make sure we are adapting as quickly as possible to any changes, while still making plans ready for when the future is more clear, so that means for tougher trading times and for better trading times. We want to have a plan even if those in power dont!