Confidence among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is at its lowest level since the financial crash of 2011.
That’s according to the findings of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)’s Q4 Small Business Index (SBI), which showed that the SBI confidence measure has fallen to -9.9 this quarter.
This crash in confidence is backed up by an SME Health Check Index, jointly published by the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, which showed its confidence indicator plunging by 23 points.
Mike Cherry, the FSB’s national chairman, said: “We’ve not seen political uncertainty weighing on small business confidence like this for many years. Planning ahead has now become impossible for a lot of firms as we simply don’t know what environment we’ll be faced with in little more than 100 days’ time.
“A pro-business Brexit is one that ensures we can trade easily with the EU and have access to the skills we need. The latter is already proving a challenge and – if we crash out of the EU on 29 March without a deal – the former will go out the window.
“As things stand, Brexit is absorbing all of the UK’s political bandwidth. Once resolved, we must get back to issues on the domestic agenda: a late payment crisis that destroys 50,000 firms a year, an outdated business rates system and spiralling employment costs.
“Politicians now need to move forward calmly and quickly to resolve this frustrating impasse as the clock continues ticking.”