Opinion: Small businesses are ‘backbone’ of the UK

This letter sent to the Star was written by Mark Barlow, Managing director of IFM Insurance based in Sheffield

Monday, 13th May 2019, 1:29 pm
Updated Monday, 20th May 2019, 7:54 am
An EU flag flies in the face of Parliament

Like me, many small business owners in South Yorkshire feel hamstrung by the lack of clarity of what the Brexit deal looks like for them, and even whether the UK will leave the EU with a deal struck at all.

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In my view, the Government isn’t doing enough to help small business, particularly in the north of England. The North-South divide has never been more accentuated over subjects like Brexit. There is a complete misunderstanding of small business, its value to local communities and its contribution to the country as a whole, especially outside the South East. As a local broker, we are a good barometer of current business sentiment. Every day we speak with business owners from all industries and sectors across South Yorkshire. Many have concerns. Many are putting off making significant decisions about their businesses until some certainty about a post-Brexit world is better understood. Small business in South Yorkshire have felt this sense of being in limbo since the nation voted to leave the EU in the referendum nearly three years ago. Yet, there are mountainous hurdles still to overcome and we are still unsure where the Brexit drama is heading. The concerns of small business range from the fluctuating value of the pound hitting import costs, concerns that UK exporters could face new tariffs, the increased threat of cyber attacks, increased taxes, a lack of access to talented hires and an economic downturn leading to a squeeze on consumer spending power. So my message is loud and clear. Central and local government have a responsibility to listen to the concerns of small business in these uncertain times. As Theresa May once said small businesses are the “backbone” of the UK.