UK SMEs still Undecided about Hammond

With less than 24 hours until the 2016 Autumn Statement, new insight conducted amongst UK’s SMEs has revealed a noticeable lack of trust and familiarity with Chancellor Philip Hammond.

The poll of 505 senior decision makers in SMEs across the UK, undertaken by strategic consultancy Lansons, reveals that whilst 27% say they trust Philip Hammond to handle the economy, a fifth (20%) still trust George Osborne more and 34% trust neither of them.

This lack of trust may be spearheaded by SMEs lack of familiarity with Hammond in his role as Chancellor of the Exchequer. The insight reveals more than half of SMEs are unfamiliar with him (57%), whilst two in five (41%) say they feel familiar with him in some way.

With SMEs still reeling from the Brexit vote just 151 days ago, they are very clear about what the most important issue the Chancellor needs to tackle over the next 12 months in Wednesday’s statement. More than a third (35%) say the most important issue is medium term economic certainty for the markets, followed by the cost of living, which is expected to rise next year following warnings from Mark Carney last week. An increase in the income tax personal allowance (36%) and cuts to fuel duty (22%) are also the proposals SMEs most want to see announced on Wednesday.

James Dowling, Head of Public Policy at Lansons comments:In the wake of the Brexit vote, the highest profile concern cited by SMEs was medium term economic uncertainty. Our country’s small businesses are looking for a lead, yet 57% of them say they are unfamiliar with the Chancellor – the man charged with steering the economy. The Autumn Statement is an opportunity to change this. If he is to succeed, Hammond needs to use it dramatically to build his profile and confidence among SMEs.

SMEs views pre and post the Brexit vote on whether the country will enter a recession remain largely unchanged. Before the vote on the 23 June, 43% believed the economy would slow down if the UK left Europe, and this remains largely unchanged at 41%. Whilst 26% believed there would be a recession before the Brexit vote, this has also dipped slightly to 24%. However, in total two thirds (65%) of SMEs still believe the economy will be negatively affected by the UK’s vote to leave.

Author: Dylan Jones

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