The first comprehensive study of FSB members’ views on the UK’s membership of the EU

business addresses london

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) last week published a comprehensive study into the opinions of current small businesses’ regarding the forthcoming referendum concerning the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU). The FSB has never before carried out such extensive research on this subject, incorporating the responses of 6,263 of its members.

Using both qualitative and quantitative data, the research is a barometer for the views of FSB members on our country’s EU membership and how voting to remain in or leave the EU will potentially impact their businesses.

The study looks at current FSB member voting tendencies together with SMEs’ views on reform of the EU. It also provides a rare insight into both national and regional voting preferences.

Commenting on the findings of the research, Mike Cherry, FSB Policy Director, said: “The study attempts to understand current attitudes towards EU membership among our members. This research is a vital starting point in outlining the key issues and areas of concern for small businesses in the EU referendum debate. Regardless of what a firm’s current position is, there is a shared message that small businesses feel they lack clear, impartial information on which to form their views.

“This is only the beginning of our work to support our members throughout this complex debate. Our role will be to ensure the small business voice is heard in the discussion, and that our members have all the information they need to make a decision which is right for them and their business.”

Independent research agency Verve were commissioned by the FSB to conduct the research in a two staged quantitative and qualitative approach. Between June and July of this year, 6,263 FSB members completed an online survey. This was followed by a cross section of 123 members participating in a 12-day online discussion forum. The forum participants were carefully chosen to ensure a balanced and representative sample from the varying nations, regions, business types and voting preferences within the FSB membership.

Verve Director of Client Services, Rebecca Stampaid  commented: This unique report is based on research that is both robust and representative. We were particularly impressed with the level of FSB member engagement, receiving 6,263 survey responses and over 1,300 individual comments in the online discussion forum. This dual research approach allowed us to explore in detail the complex and sometimes emotive issues at the heart of what FSB members feel about the European Union.”

47% of members said they UK should stay in the EU with 10% undecided on how they would vote.  Of those most likely to vote ‘Yes’ 66.3% were exporters to the EU and 60.7% were employers of non-UK EU nationals. 86.3% of those who voted ‘No’ in the 1975 referendum would still vote ‘No’, along with an average of 48% of FSB members in the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber and West Midlands regions.

Of those members who wish to remain in the EU but with reforms, 34.7% said they would like powers transferred back to the UK, 25.8% said they would like things to remain as they are, 21.4% said they would like to see other reforms and 12.9% would like further integration.

A high percentage (42.7%) of those who would vote to leave the EU cited the strengthening of the UK’s  trade links with the rest of the world as a priority.

A hefty 78% of FSB members felt they have something to say about the UK’s EU membership, with 40.8% feeling informed about the referendum but 37.0% feeling uninformed. Overall it was felt that membership of the EU is beneficial to the UK economy with 41.3% feeling that a departure from the EU would have a negative impact on their business. Adversely 17.2% felt that leaving the EU would be a positive impact for their business.

Posted by The Secret Businessman