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Majority of SMEs feel staying in the EU would be better for business

Almost two-thirds of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) surveyed by SME networking business BNI feel that the UK should remain in the European Union in order to maintain vital trading links.
The verdict from a survey of 1,600 SMEs over the UK’s EU membership backs up the thoughts of bosses from some of the largest companies in Britain last month.
Influential business leaders, such as Sir Richard Branson, Sir Roger Carr and Sir Martin Sorrell, all said the economic case for remaining in the EU is "overwhelming", given that EU membership boosts the national economy by as much as £92bn a year.
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs insisted the proximity of a huge continental market, with similar ways of doing business and open trade, gave them "an extension off their local trading ground".
The Conservatives have laid out plans for an "in/out" referendum before the end of 2017, in a bid to get a voice for how much the nation values its EU membership.
Charlie Lawson, BNI national director, said: "It’s clear that small businesses value Britain’s EU membership. We believe the referendum will further corroborate this.
"The feedback we’ve had is that SMEs regard the EU as an extension of their local trading ground. They enjoy the ease of travel and trade as well as closely aligned business practices.
"It would be a mistake to raise doubts over ever-increasing business ties with our closest neighbours."
With Scottish independence also a hot topic at present, the BNI survey also uncovered an interesting 70 per cent of Scottish businesses that wish to remain part of the United Kingdom.
The EU referendum is still potentially four years away and subsequently, Mr Lawson believes the key issues facing SMEs this year remain "the banks' abilities to lend sufficiently and general dissatisfaction with the Government’s ability to provide robust support to enterprise".
Only 38 per cent of survey respondents said they were confident that banks would meet their lending requirements.

Image: Yanni Koutsomitis

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