Wide variance in UK SMEs finance expectations

London Financial District
david-menzies By David Menzies, ICAS Director of Insolvency

21 December 2016

A recent Close Brothers Business Barometer survey showed substantial variance across regions and business sectors’ expectations about ability to access to finance, reports David Menzies.

More than two thirds (70%) of the UK’s SME business owners are confident that the UK's decision to leave the EU will have no impact on their ability to access finance. 

This is according to the Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey of UK SME owners and senior management across a range of sectors and regions.

Only in Greater London did over half of businesses (57%) answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘do you expect your access to finance to be impacted by Brexit?’. In contrast, in Northern Ireland and Wales, only 14% and 18% of business owners, respectively, answered ‘yes’.

“Overall, UK SMEs feel that despite the outcome of the EU referendum, their access to finance has not been noticeably disrupted, and nor do they expect it to be,” said Ian Aitchison, MD, Close Brothers Business Finance. 

“Apart from Greater London businesses, all other regions feel that Brexit will have a limited impact on their ability to raise finance."


There was a degree of variation within key sectors, with some expecting to see more of an impact than others. The breakdown of ‘yes’ responses to the question ‘do you expect your access to finance to be impacted by Brexit?’:

  • Construction – 28%
  • Engineering – 48%
  • Manufacturing – 33%
  • Transport – 37%
  • Print – 47%

While generally UK SMEs do not expect to see a tightening of finance availability with Brexit looming on the horizon, it is concerning that sectors such as manufacturing and print are indicating substantial concerns with nearly half of engineering and print sector companies expecting to be impacted.

Availability of finance is key not only to growth but also the essential survival of companies.  Should the concerns around access to finance play out then 2017 is likely to see many more firms in those sectors start to experience financial distress.


  • Insolvency
  • Brexit

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