After a long and at sometimes acrimonious campaign on both sides of the argument, the Forum has responded to the decision to leave the EU with a request for the government to take immediate action to support SMEs and address their many issues and concerns that they have raised during the referendum campaign.

“Politicians now no longer have the excuse of EU interference and need to act quickly and effectively to offset what as most economists believe will be a period of uncertainty. This means the UK’s 1.3 million employers will need support in managing this period of disruption if it is to continue to drive the British economy” explained Ian Cass, Managing Director of the Forum of Private Business.

Ian stated “our feedback suggests that a majority of business owners, even those involved in international trade supported the leave campaign as a way of freeing them from red tape that was imposed on them. We need an accelerated deregulation programme – vague promises of £10 billion cuts are no longer acceptable - and a beefed up skills programme so that UK workers have the skills needed by local employers”.

“However the clock is ticking, we have 2 years to extricate ourselves from the EU and cannot afford for any petty political squabbling within government. There is plenty of work that needs to be done as the economy effectively needs to be rebased around small firms and trade agreements needs to be negotiated”.

Not all business owners are happy with the decision, Ed Salt, Managing Director of Delamere Dairies responded to the decision with disappointment, “As a co-owner of a business who relies on international trade and the benefits the EU brings to both the British economy and our agricultural sector, I am hugely disappointed that the UK has voted to leave the EU. A stable economy is vital to the future growth of the country and I am fearfully of what the future might hold, not only for the British economy and our world standings but of course Delamere Dairy".

In contrast Owen Charnley, Owner of Pathway to Solutions was more upbeat:
“I have had to look into this in great detail and either side appeared to be a step into the unknown and while I respect the benefits the EU has bestowed on us in the past, past performance is no guarantee of future success. The union seemed to be taking us away from its fundamental reason for existence, becoming a remote legislative body and as the reforms were only going to be introduced after the vote, I feel that reform from within the EU would have been difficult.”

The Forum were surprised and pleased by the high turnout at the polls, which reflects the engagement of the UK electorate despite a very negative campaign which highlighted the lack of trust in our politicians on both sides. Something we are sure they will want to address.

The narrowness of the margin of victory indicates how divided the UK is on this matter and politicians on all sides need to address this issue and start work to unify the country. They can do this by taking positive action and creating a proactive plan for the future, something the Forum has consistently asked for throughout the referendum campaign.

The noticeable division between the north and south of in England, particularly London, is a concern for all of us and the Forum feels this highlights the need to take more positive action rather than just words on the part of the government. The BBC made the decision to move some of their operations away from London and there is no reason why the government cannot do the same with some of their departments, for example DEFRA could be located in Cornwall or Yorkshire. The recent decision by BIS to move a department from Sheffield to London clearly sends out the wrong message. A proactive move to truly devolve government across the UK with the economic and social benefits that entail would be welcomed by the Forum and its members.

In his concluding remarks, Ian stated “the UK has made its decision and we can now move forward from this historic event in a positive and proactive manner. Small business must play its part, but what is clear is that we need some fresh and innovative thinking to ensure that Britain’s small businesses continue to innovate, grow and increase their productivity something the Forum and its members will fully engage with.”


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About Forum of Private Business

The Forum of Private Business is a not-for-profit comprehensive business support organisation founded in 1977. Our membership is spread throughout the UK and primarily made up of companies that employ between 1-50 employees, helping them to manage employees, saving time, giving advice, support and protection where a business needs it.

We are a recognised leading authority on business issues and represent the interests of business owners on many consultative bodies. We have built a solid reputation, being influential in many areas of policy-making, in changing laws that affect small businesses, and we continue to campaign for the fair treatment of businesses within the UK.

Everything we do is about making sure our members’ businesses operate profitably. This means that every penny we make goes back in to supporting our members, providing the support and resources that will enable businesses to flourish and grow.