More small companies are glum about their business prospects than at any time in the last five years, as calls for a Brexit deal ratchet up.
Butchers, bakers and cafes up and down Britain have called on the government to clinch a deal with the EU to end a “dogged lack of confidence” among small business owners, after it emerged nearly two-thirds of them do not expect trading to improve in the next three months.
A survey by the Federation of Small Business (FSB) has found while 64 per cent see no improvements coming, 44 per cent expect performance to worsen – a five-year high.
Those that do business internationally have been particularly hard-hit by Brexit uncertainty. Only 24 per cent reported an increase in exports over the past three months.
FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “These findings must serve as an urgent wake-up call for policymakers.
“Even in the aftermath of the financial crash, we didn’t see such a sustained string of negative confidence readings.
“Three years of political uncertainty and rising costs have stifled output and left small firms unable to plan, invest and grow.”
The trade body’s Small Business Index monitor came in with a reading of minus 8.1 for the third quarter, a fifth consecutive negative score.