FSB puts forward small businesses’ case for EU negotiations

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has outlined what it sees as key priorities when it comes to negotiating the terms of the UK’s departure from the European Union.

While big business were largely in favour of remaining part of the EU, small businesses were more evenly divided in the run up to the referendum. One late poll by research consultancy TNS found that 38% of SMEs were in favour of remaining in the EU while 37% were in favour of a Brexit. Three weeks before the vote a quarter of smaller businesses were still undecided and around half said they could not give clear business reasons for both sides of the debate.

With the referendum having come down on the Leave side’s favour, the UK’s businesses are now waiting to see what concrete changes that decision will actually bring. Some fear additional costs that could see many businesses facing insolvency while others are celebrating what they see as a potential end to EU red tape.

According to the FSB, it’s paramount that the Government and Bank of England provide economic stability, in order to maintain the business confidence needed to continue to drive growth and job creation.

Some of the elements required to provide this stability, according to the FSB, are access to the single market, the ability to hire the right people, continued EU funding for key schemes and clarity on any future regulatory framework. The organisation says it aims to be a constructive partner in the upcoming negotiations that will frame the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

According to the FSB’s own statistics, small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private sector businesses at the start of 2015 and 99.9% were small or medium-sized. SMEs employed 15.6 million people, representing 60% of all private sector employment in the UK.

Around a third of FSB members export or import, with the majority doing business with the single market. The FSB will discuss the issues further next week at its regional policy conference.

By Phil Smith

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