Businesses ‘cautiously optimistic’ ahead of General Election

More than a fifth of UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are anticipating strong performance and business growth over the next 12 months, despite uncertainties surrounding Brexit and the upcoming General Election.

The figures come from the latest quarterly Business Barometer from finance company Close Brothers, which tracks changes in business attitudes throughout the year.

The latest Barometer, which was published earlier this week by Business Matters magazine, found that a large proportion of UK SMEs are currently feeling ‘cautiously optimistic’ about their future.

It found that, despite high expectations regarding success and growth, many businesses fear that substantial ‘cost pressures’ will pose new challenges over the coming year.

A quarter of business owners told the survey that they were concerned their business would struggle with the ever-rising cost of the National Living Wage (NLW) – which previously rose to £7.50 an hour last month and is forecast to hit £9 by 2020 under existing proposals.

A similar number of respondents said that recent changes to business rates were also a concern going forward.

Furthermore, a significant number of businesses quizzed cited inflation fears and the ongoing struggle with late payments amongst their key concerns for 2017.

As many as 11.8 per cent of respondents added that they fear contraction or closure within the next 12 months.