Business remains defiant amid Brexit uncertainty

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90 per cent of business leaders expect Britain’s vote to leave the European Union to prompt a fall in economic growth in the short-term, according to BGF’s Growth Climate Index – a survey of over 450 business leaders and entrepreneurs measuring confidence in the UK’s business growth environment. When asked about the longer-term impact, 55 per cent expected growth to fall over this period, pointing to an expectation that the outlook would improve. 

Business leaders were defiant in the face of these challenges, with 74 per cent of respondents arguing that Britain is still a great place to start and grow a business. Furthermore, despite the uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum, just 41 per cent of those surveyed postponed key business decisions over the campaign period.

Looking forward to the upcoming negotiations with the EU, a majority of those surveyed (54 per cent) felt that continued access to the Single Market should be the priority during discussions with Europe. This was followed by attracting overseas businesses to remain or invest in the UK (22 per cent) and ensuring that businesses can attract and hire the best international skills and talent (10 per cent). Just 9 per cent of respondents thought that reducing the regulatory burden on business should be the negotiating priority.

There was significant agreement amongst respondents on the sectoral impact of Brexit. A majority of 58 per cent believed that the financial services sector will be most affected by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. This was followed by manufacturing (16 per cent) and construction (9 per cent).

Stephen Welton, Chief Executive of BGF said: “Business leaders and entrepreneurs are clearly concerned about some of the implications of Brexit, but like me they remain positive about Britain as a place to do business.

“The fundamentals that make the UK so attractive to growing businesses have not disappeared, and businesses will continue to contribute to the economy and create jobs. BGF is committed to continuing to invest in the UK’s most ambitious small and mid-sized businesses.

“However, we cannot wait for politicians to provide the answers. It is vital that business continues to make its voice heard to ensure that its priorities are high on the next Government’s agenda. Most importantly, we should aim to ensure that Britain remains a pro-enterprise country and that businesses retain the best possible access to the single market.”

This edition of the Growth Climate Index, BGF’s tri-annual monitor of the environment for business growth in the UK, dealt specifically with the consequences of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

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