Bosses in the South East appear split over the impact that any potential EU referendum may have on economic recovery, according to a new survey by Close Brothers Invoice Finance.
More than two-fifths (45%) of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the region don’t believe it will have any impact on our recovery while more 32% are concerned that an EU referendum would challenge the economic recovery. A further 23% are unsure about what impact it may have.
Of those that are worried about its impact, almost half 43% are worried that it will cause uncertainty among inward investors, over a third (35%) are concerned that it could raise doubts about their foreign customers continuing to work with them and a further 16% claim it will cause them to delay on investment decisions for their business.
The findings come from the latest Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey that canvasses the opinion of SME owners and senior management across the UK.
Michael Cox, Regional Sales Director for Close Brothers Invoice Finance in the South East said: “It appears that local firms are split over the prospect of an EU referendum.
“It is understandable that some businesses are feeling anxious about the prospect, however, it is important to keep in mind that this potential referendum is still more than two years away and in the meantime we must continue to focus on encouraging investment and paving the way for growth so that we can continue to create stability and security.
“There is evidence that there has been significant foreign investment flowing in to the UK as a direct result of our EU membership*. Last year, the UK’s foreign direct investment (FDI) stock was greater than any of our European neighbours.”
Mr Cox continued: “The UKIT inward investment report showed record levels of job creation with 66,390 new jobs last year, the highest since 2001. In total 1,773 investment projects were set up by foreign businesses during the 2013 to 2014 financial year. “These figures are significant and indeed, we hope that the prospect of a referendum will not derail the progress we have made in recent years.”