SMEs brace for tough times – but ready to take the hit for Ukraine, survey finds

Britain’s small businesses are increasingly feeling the impact of rising costs but are poised to take the economic hit of the global effort to stop the war in Ukraine, a new survey from Newcastle-based tech giant has revealed. , Wise.

The survey of over 1,000 SMEs asked business owners about a range of topics at a time when the rising ‘cost of doing business’ is increasingly in the spotlight.

The survey found that 71% of SMEs say their business will be affected in some way by the recent rise in the price of oil and gas in global markets, while the number of companies confident in the success has dropped eight percentage points since last month.

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More than a third of companies (35%) said the global crisis could have a significant impact on their ability to invest in their business over the next 12 months and a similar proportion are looking to pass on increased costs to their clients.

But the poll also found that business owners were overwhelmingly willing to accept a hit to their operations for the greater global good. 87% said a blow to their business was a price to pay for supporting the Ukrainian people and 49% would consider hiring a Ukrainian refugee. 82% of small business owners support tougher sanctions on the Russian economy and 80% organize activities to support the Ukrainian people.

The picture of growing nervousness in the small business community comes just days before Rishi Sunak’s spring statement, with mounting pressure on the chancellor to protect businesses from rising costs.

Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the UK Chambers of Commerce, said: “The focus should be on using next week’s spring statement to address the escalating cost of the crisis in businesses by delaying the National Insurance hike and introducing a temporary cap on energy prices for small businesses.

“It would give businesses the leeway they need to contain prices, protect jobs and make the investments so vital to maintaining our economic prospects.”

And Martin McTague, national chairman of the North East-based Federation of Small Businesses, said: ‘We urgently need to see the Chancellor ease the pressure on the five and a half million small businesses and self-employed traders on whom our country will depend. reprise. ”

Speaking at the Tories’ Spring Forum late last week, Mr Sunak hinted at some support measures to counter the rising cost of living, but sought to tone down any major expectations.

He said: “I can’t solve every problem, no government can solve every problem, especially when you’re dealing with global inflationary forces – they’re somewhat out of my control.

“But as you saw about a month ago when we announced the very significant intervention to help people with some of the added costs of energy bills, where we can make a difference, of course. that I can – I always will, we’ve done it for the past two years.

“So we’ll have an update on the situation and a little preview of where we’re headed.”

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