A survey from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found that confidence among UK SMEs is at its lowest since 2013.
The research identifies Scotland and Northern Ireland as regions with the least SME confidence, while London and the East of England both suffered drops in optimism.
The FSB has put forward a number of explanations for its findings, with factors including uncertainty caused by the Brexit debate, changes to the National Living Wage, and auto-enrolment.
In spite of this, the report also found that SMEs are now finding easier to access finance. With many increasingly turning towards alternative finance. Reportedly, 9% of SMEs that applied for credit between January and March this year did so via peer-to-peer, lending, or crowdfunding.
“Small business confidence has clearly faltered, which is why the welcome small business focus in the budget is so important”, says Sandra Dexter, FSB vice chairman.
“We need a renewed push for growth and productivity – with policy makers delivering a sustained package of support for ambitious small firms.
The ongoing improvements to small business finance demonstrates how a sustained and focussed approach to supporting smaller firms can really pay off”.