Small businesses undecided on EU referendum

Almost half (42 per cent) of the small business vote on the UK’s membership of the EU on June 23 could still be swayed either way, according to the results of a new snap poll.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) polled more than 4,000 of its members between February 20 and 23, just after the Prime Minister announced the date for the referendum. Just over half (52 per cent) said they didn’t feel informed about the upcoming EU referendum.

When the FSB asked what they needed more information on, 48 per cent said the economic impact on the UK, 38 per cent wanted more detail on the administrative burden of complying with regulation and a third asked for more on the cost of EU membership.

“This high response from FSB members shows first and foremost the issues that will impact how smaller businesses will vote in the EU referendum,” said FSB policy director Mike Cherry. “Three-quarters of our members raised EU governance – 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 per cent), the cost of EU membership (69 per cent), the administrative burden of regulation (68 per cent) and the economic impact on the UK (64 per cent).

“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. The 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.”

The top 10 factors influencing how small businesses said they would vote in the EU referendum were:

1     EU governance (75%)

2     Free movement of people (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%)