Almost one in four SMEs see political uncertainty as one of the biggest obstacles facing their business, according to a major survey of over 4,500 small firms. The latest BVA BDRC SME Finance Monitor has found that 24 percent of SMEs now see political uncertainty as a major barrier to their business going forward, up from 15 percent a year ago.

Four in ten SMEs named political uncertainty, legislation and regulation or the current economic climate as one of the major barriers to their business in the coming 12 months, up from three in ten for 2017. Those SMEs that trade internationally were even more likely to be concerned about political uncertainty, with 37 percent of those who import and export naming it as a major barrier, up from 18 percent a year ago. The survey also reveals that only one in 20 (five percent) of SMEs see access to finance as a major barrier to growth, while 80 percent of SME applications for finance are approved by lenders.

UK Finance recently launched an online guide, supported by leading business groups including the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), offering SMEs advice on how to prepare for the UK’s departure from the EU. The Let’s Talk Business website features extensive guidance on how to apply for finance, make payments overseas and manage cash flows, as well as featuring contact points and details of the various support schemes and resources available.

Stephen Pegge, Managing Director, Commercial Finance at UK Finance, said “This survey suggests many small businesses are increasingly concerned about the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, particularly those that trade internationally.”

“Through our ‘Let’s Talk Business’ campaign, we are providing guidance to help SMEs plan for the changes ahead and consider whether they may need any additional finance.

“The banking and finance industry has the capacity to support viable businesses whatever the outcome and lenders continue to approve over eight in ten of finance applications from SMEs. We would therefore urge SMEs to be confident in approaching their bank and discussing any financing needs, and to get in touch early on to improve their chances of success.”