There’s no doubt that you’ve read hundreds of articles and opinion pieces on Brexit and the European Union (EU) referendum over the last few months. For this reason, we’re going to keep this brief.
This is our roundup of varying (and often wildly different) opinions on the potential impact of Brexit on small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across the country. If, like 42 percent of small business owners surveyed earlier in the year, you are still on the fence over whether to vote for a British exit from the EU or not, this neutral roundup may help to sway you one way or another.
Remain: Free Movement of Individuals
Though this is a topic of debate that has primarily come up regarding us Brits’ ability to move around Europe (or rather, let’s be honest, the Mediterranean coast) on our holidays with the same ease we enjoy now, research published by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) suggested that 70 percent of SME owners said the continued free movement of individuals, and thus, labour, across Europe would influence how they vote come 23 June.
The key here is talent, and it’s a contentious issue among voters. From a small business’s point of view it makes sense to wish to hire the most qualified person for the job, as long as they’re able to legally work in the UK. Voters, on the other hand, argue that British citizens should have precedent in the job market over non-British members of the EU.
Leave: Flexibility and Adaptability
Back in March, and in response to a letter published the week before by the heads of 36 FTSE 100 companies urging Britons to remain in the EU, 200 small business owners signed an open letter urging the British people to ignore “…a minority of managers from Britain’s largest companies,” and instead support Britain’s small businesses with a ‘leave’ vote on 23 June.
The emphasis of the letter gave a strong focus to the ideas of flexibility and adaptability; something the signatories of the letter said EU membership hinders, namely commenting that “…we deal with the EU’s constant diet of unnecessary regulations which add to our cost base, reduce our bottom line, and raise prices for our customers for no return.”
Remain: Better Trading Channels with Europe
This point has been argued so much it barely bares repeating. But we will because, well, it’s one of the biggest inflection points for SME owners who export to the rest of Europe.
Unsurprisingly, the ‘remain’ campaign has gained almost unanimous support from large companies who do business with Europe on a daily basis. Equally unsurprising is the fact that small businesses who also happen to do business with Europe have also been piping up in favour of a ‘remain’ vote, as despite assurances on both side, it’s hard to predict what trade relations with the rest of Europe will look like post-Brexit.
Leave: Cost of Membership is Too High
The often-cited figure that you see splashed across our television screens (not to mention busses) is that the UK sends £350 million per week to the EU. Though this figure has come up against scrutiny (it’s said that a rebate is deducted before payment, making the actual figure around £280 million per week), it’s difficult for anyone on either side of the equation to argue that that’s not a significant sum.
Though the cost of membership isn’t as big a deterrent to staying in the EU for small business owners than it is to the general public, it’s still a point of contention, with 69 percent of SME owners saying that the high cost of EU membership will affect their vote, according to the FSB.
Experienced Tax Accountants
To speak with a professional accountant to discuss the potential impacts, positive or negative, the results of the EU referendum may have on your small business, contact us today on 020 8780 2349 or get in touch with us via our contact page to arrange a complimentary, no obligation meeting.