Small Biz are the voice of reason in the EU Debate

As I said in a recent blog, there are as many questions on the referendum as there are small businesses. And we should know. Sage has asked small business customers right across the UK and Europe what the vote will mean to them*.

I’ve heard stories from small businesses on both sides of the ‘in / out’ divide and it’s their reality that truly brings this debate to life. Theirs is not rhetoric or political point-scoring, but real concerns of livelihood, crippling red tape and recruiting skilled staff.

Given small businesses’ staggering economic and social contribution — creating 85% of new jobs and generating more than EUR 3.7 trillion across Europe — it’s vital their voices are heard loud and clear. That’s why Sage is providing this platform — to ask their questions, and help them get some answers.

I’m hosting live on-line discussions with small businesses to air these viewpoints; here’s what three businesses shared with me in the first of the series:

Arthur de Catheu, CEO and cofounder of Finexkap in France:

“Should the UK vote to leave, that could have significant consequences for us: working in Fintech, the main country where we could find sophisticated investors — those knowing how to deal with complex financial and legal engineering — was the UK. Now continental Europe is catching up, but London is still at the forefront of financial innovation, a critical point for Fintech. UK investors are also looking actively at opportunities abroad and it would be much more difficult for them should the UK not be part of the EU.”

Mark Barrett — Practice Manager at UK firm Cannon Moorcroft sees it differently:

“One of the biggest problems for small businesses is the legislation that comes from Brussels — the EU small business act was meant to reduce admin and red tape by 25% by 2012 and it completely failed — over the last year it’s got worse, particularly with VAT MOSS and I can understand why small businesses would look at the legislations coming in as a headache.”

Labour and access to talent is a common theme for many European employers. Roberto Martìn, HR Director of Spanish international schools group, King’s College:

“This is affecting our business right now — we have a number of candidates who have withdrawn their job applications because they do not know what will be happening when they would start their contract. It’s also affecting my 700 British employees because don’t know if they’ll be able to retire in Spain.”

Small businesses will be the voice of reason in this debate — the questions they raise highlight the pertinent issues of life with the UK in or out of the EU. If you still have questions, please join us to share your comments and questions #SageDebateEU

* Sage survey of small businesses show more than two fifths of UK say stay, nearly a quarter to leave; and over a third of UK small businesses undecided. Small businesses in France, Germany and Spain say they want the UK to stay in the EU.