Ahead of the 2023 Autumn Statement, research from Simply Asset Finance, the alternative financial model provider, has revealed that 48 per cent of small and medium businesses (SMEs) don’t know where to look for support to help them thrive and survive.
With interest rates likely high for the foreseeable future, SMEs are reassessing their outlook and trying to set a clear course for the future. Around two-thirds (64 per cent) of UK SMEs want more resources and support to be made available to support them and their businesses.
Mike Randall, CEO at Simply Asset Finance, said: “SMEs up and down the country are ready to seize on growth opportunities and be the engine of the UK’s economic recovery. But significant action is required to keep UK business on the right track. Similarly, more must be done to ensure they’re in a position to seize these opportunities. The Autumn Statement offers a valuable chance for the government to properly and substantively demonstrate their support for UK business.”
Overhauling old support systems
Support currently on offer needs an overhaul and SMEs have made their opinions clear. The main policy they want help with is the rising costs of utilities and energy bills (33 per cent). Twenty-nine per cent of SMEs said they would want better financial support and accessibility to government grants or loans. This is as well as a reduction in corporation tax/corporation tax relief (26 per cent).
Then, when asked what the government can do to specifically support growth itself, it’s local investment – more investment to support regional project work (34 per cent). But tax incentives are deemed crucial too; whether it’s on regional project work (29 per cent), on regional hiring work (28 per cent), or on regional R&D work (27 per cent).
Randall adds: “A significant and cost-effective step would be to simply make it easier for SMEs to invest in asset purchases. Just being able to expense it could have a transformative impact on businesses across the country. But with the scale of the challenge ahead, an extension of the Recovery Loan Scheme or a replacement with similar underlying aims would provide SMEs with real certainty about their future. Not to mention the confidence to invest in it too.
“But the role of an experienced financial partner is critical. Lenders need to step up service and work much harder to find and share ways to support SMEs, including by providing much-needed clarity on the range of funding options available to fuel growth, such as asset finance. The scale of the growth opportunity is significant. However, turning potential into reality will require industry and government to pull in the same direction.”