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26 February 2016

Small firms speak out on EU referendum vote

In the first business survey conducted since the EU referendum date was announced, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has today (Friday) revealed the results of a snap poll from over 4,000 small business owners. FSB research found that 42 per cent [1] of the small business vote on the UK’s membership of the EU on 23 June could still be swayed. The research also revealed how informed small business owners feel on the issue and what the main areas of interest are that would influence their vote. The FSB advises both the ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ campaigns to focus upon these issues in their campaigns.

As part of the survey, FSB members were also asked how informed they feel about the EU referendum. Just over half (52%) [2] of members surveyed said they do not feel informed about the EU referendum, which suggests a growing number are ready to demand answers from both ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ campaigns once they are appointed. When asked what members needed more information on: almost half (48%) said the economic impact on the UK, 38 per cent noted they needed more detail on the administrative burden of complying with regulation and 33 per cent asked for more detail on the cost of EU membership.

Mike Cherry, Policy Director for the Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“This high response from FSB members shows first and foremost the issues that will impact how smaller businesses will vote in the EU referendum. Three out of four (75%) [3] FSB members raised EU governance–i.e. how decisions are made within the EU - as the area that would have the highest influence on how they plan to vote. Other areas that scored highly included the free movement of people (70%), the cost of EU membership (69%), the administrative burden of regulation (68%) and the economic impact on the UK (64%) [3].”

Top areas small businesses say will influence how they will vote in the EU referendum [3]

1 EU governance (e.g. EU decision making)-75%
2 Free movement of people (e.g. of EU labour, travel, tourism)–70%
3 Cost of EU membership-69%
4 Administrative burden on businesses as a result of complying with regulation-68%
5 Economic impact on the UK-64%
6 Trade with EU Countries-53%
7 Access to the Single Market-49%
8 Trade with non-EU Countries-48%
9 EU funding-42%
10 Competition-35%

Mike Cherry, concluded: “Today’s wide ranging research sends a very clear message on what information small businesses want from both official campaigns once they are appointed by the Electoral Commission. Now the date is confirmed, it is clearly ‘game on’ for both sides on this debate. It is crucial that once appointed, both the ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ campaign groups tackle this information deficit. Smaller businesses want to know the practical impact that remaining within or leaving the EU would have on their firms. FSB will be at the forefront of this effort on behalf of our members, to get the information they need before they cast their vote.”