UK200Group – Despite fears that EU referendum uncertainty could hit growth, strong growth in the quarter immediately before the Brexit vote show that confidence was robust.
Office for National Statistics figures for UK economic growth in Quarter 2 of 2016 show that gross domestic product (GDP) had expanded by 0.7% since Quarter 1, 2016. This was revised upwards from a provisional figure of 0.6%.
A new survey issued by the UK200Group – the UK’s association of independent, quality-assured accountancy and law firms – shows that 65.4% of private business owners have noticed no change in new business enquiries or sales since the Brexit vote, further underlining the resilience of the UK’s industries.
The survey was completed by 238 of the UK200Group’s members and their clients.
The remainder were split: with reference to new business enquiries, 10.3% felt that their situation had improved and 12.6% felt that it had deteriorated.
In terms of sales, 11.2% believed that the situation had improved and 11.7% felt that it had deteriorated.
The report was presented at the UK200Group’s Brexit Forum, a newly-formed group that meet to discuss the implications of Brexit for their clients, notably SMEs, owner-managed businesses and privately-owned businesses.
Respondents were divided into three groups:
- those with concerns about Brexit
- those who were confident and
- those who were unsure.
Some 78% of those asked thought that economic forecasts are no more reliable than weather forecasts. There was an underlying theme of distrust of politicians as well.
When asked what would be most likely to allay their business fears, respondents who had said they were worried about Brexit responded strongly that they would be reassured if:
1. The government would enter into a set of trade agreements with the EU similar to the old Common Market
2. The government would agree with the EU that there will be no tariffs imposed on cross-border trade
3. They could be sure that after the political arguments, sterling will revert to its usual levels
Read the report’s conclusion, written by Jonathan Franks of Hillier Hopkins LLP.
Declan Swan, CEO of the UK200Group, said, “One of the most surprising things that the report expressed is that, for the majority of firms, very little has changed since the EU referendum.
“As we can see from the Office for National Statistics’ second quarter figures, the economy seemed to be in good shape before the EU referendum.
“The majority of people we spoke to say that nothing has changed, which would indicate that they are experiencing the same economic conditions as before.
“Up to 2 September, nothing had tangibly changed for businesses in the UK – it may be that we will not feel the effects of the Brexit decision for some time.
“The UK200Group’s members represent the interests of around 150,000 owner-managed businesses, and over the coming months and years the owners of those businesses will turn to them for advice and reassurance. Our job as an association is to collaborate and talk to one another, so that when decisions are made and new regulations or business conditions come into place, we are well-placed to offer clear and confident advice as quickly as possible.”
The UK200Group, which was established in 1986, represents a group of trusted, quality-assured business advisers – accountants and lawyers – who have around 150,000 SME clients in total. As such, the UK200Group acts as the voice for 1,500 charities, over 10% of all registered academies, more than 3,700 farms, 800 healthcare businesses and over 500 property and construction professionals.