SMEs seek more Government support as they plan for Brexit

Many companies are hesitant about investing right now due to UK departure from EU

Eighty per cent of companies surveyed plan to invest in their business over the next three months. Photograph: iStock

Eighty per cent of companies surveyed plan to invest in their business over the next three months. Photograph: iStock

 

Almost nine in 10 small- and medium-sized companies feel the Government should be providing them with more support, according to new research.

This support should come in the form of tax breaks, a lower VAT rate, additional funding, subsidised staff training and other assistance to help their company grow, the study finds.

The research, which covers interviews with 200 businesses, reveals that 80 per cent of companies surveyed plan to invest in their business over the next three months, with most intending to increase spending in areas such as training and development, IT and recruitment.

However, it also shows that many SMEs are hesitant about investing right now due to concerns over Brexit.

Challenge

According to the Bibby Financial Services study, 20 per cent of companies surveyed said the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union is the biggest challenge they currently face. Other challenges cited include increased competition from other businesses, late payments from customers, a lack of skilled staff, and rising costs.

More than half of Irish SMEs are planning to take steps in advance of Brexit, with 38 per cent actively exploring new markets. Some 26 per cent of companies are working to diversify their business, while 24 per cent are getting their cash flow in order.

The remaining respondents said they have no plans to change their business strategy ahead of the March 2019 Brexit deadline.

The survey shows half of SMEs saw sales grow in the third quarter while 65 per cent expect to see their sales increase over the final three months of the year.

“Our research shows many positive economic indicators and it’s very encouraging to see Irish SMEs investing in growth and development again. Despite concerns around the knock-on effect of Brexit, there are some constructive efforts taking place within Irish business, which indicates confidence and a healthy economy for the remainder of 2018,” said Mark O’ Rourke, head of business at Bibby Financial Services Ireland.