SMEs believe government investment too London-focused – BFS – Insider Media

Edward Winterton

More than half of UK SMEs believe government investment is too London-centric according financial services provider, Bibby Financial Services (BFS). The research also found that awareness of the Northern Powerhouse has grown but more needs to be done to champion the Midlands Engine.

The latest SME Confidence Tracker from BFS found that 56 per cent of UK SMEs believe that government investment is unevenly spread in favour of London.

It also found that awareness of the Northern Powerhouse grew by 13 per cent in the past year to 70 per cent of SMEs. However, more than half (54 per cent) of are unaware of the Midlands Engine initiative.

More than a third (36 per cent) believe the Northern Powerhouse is too focused on Manchester and should look to develop other cities in the North, down from 40 per cent in 2017. 

Similarly, 28 per cent of SMEs believe the Midlands Engine is too focused on Birmingham and should be focusing on developing other cities in the region, down from 33 per cent in 2017.

Nearly a third (29 per cent) of SMEs see the Northern Powerhouse as an investment gimmick that is politically motivated while 24 per cent believe the same of the Midlands Engine.

Edward Winterton, UK chief executive, Bibby Financial Services said: “After decades of under-investment in the UK regions, a patchwork approach to investment is not delivering on the government’s promise of a fairer economy. SMEs need better support to re-set the balance between the regions and provide business owners with the confidence to invest and grow.

“SMEs are doing their upmost to get on with things amidst Brexit uncertainty. It is about time the government did the same. Brexit must stop being a distraction from a domestic agenda that needs to deliver for businesses and the people they employ. For starters, roads need to be built, internet speeds improved, and train lines electrified.”

The SME Confidence Tracker is a quarterly poll of 1,000 SME owners in a nationally-representative survey. It is conducted by Critical Research.