SMEs unaware of initiatives to support them

A study by AXA Business Insurance across more than 500 SMEs and micro SMEs in the UK suggests that many are unaware of the initiatives in place designed to help them.

The research, carried out shortly after the March 2013 budget, revealed that a quarter of small business owners were unaware of the reduction in the rate of corporation tax and of those that said they were, only 13 per cent could state the correct rate.

Meanwhile, nearly half of all business owners were unaware of the ongoing government initiative to reduce red tape for small businesses and only five per cent knew for sure they were in an enterprise zone with around a third having never even heard of enterprise zones.

One in four were unaware of the scheme to roll out superfast broadband connections across the UK and 17 per cent had no knowledge of apprenticeship schemes.

It seems that for those that are aware of these initiatives, they are far from sure that they are working for them. Just seven per cent believe that there has in reality been a reduction in red tape with an even smaller four per cent saying it has saved them any money.

Two per cent believe they have seen any benefit as a result of being in an Enterprise Zone.

When it came to finances, while being able to secure lending and/or funding ranked as the number two concern (after fuel costs) for small business owners, many were unaware of the funding options that may be available to them.

Half (49 per cent) had not heard of the funding for lending scheme, 53 per cent were unaware of plans for a Business Bank while 71 per cent had not heard of crowdsource or crowd funding.

And despite the phenomenal growth in peer to peer lending, 54 per cent of small business owners were unaware of its existence.

Of those that were aware of the funding for lending scheme, just five per cent believed that it was working for small businesses. And only nine per cent were very confident that the new Business Bank would lend to small business owners.

Darrell Sansom, managing director of AXA Business Insurance said:

“The numbers of small businesses in the UK continue to climb rapidly but it seems that many could be missing opportunities to help their business along the way through a lack of awareness of the support that may be available to them.

“We are also concerned that among those that are more aware, many are not seeing the benefit that they would want.

“As one of the biggest insurers of SMEs in the UK, we are keen to see them grow and develop into bigger and healthier concerns.

“We would urge government to ensure that the various support schemes that have been created for SMEs receive the commensurate degree of promotion and awareness to support what is the heart of British Business.”

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