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South West “increasingly divided” on EU membership

Wednesday 30th March, 2016

Bridgwater Chamber of Commerce are looking to hold a networking seminar prior to the June elections to help businesses get the facts on this crucial topic.

Latest information shows that the South West business community is becoming increasingly divided over support for the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU), according to a survey carried out by the Business Growth Fund (BGF).

Just over half of respondents (52 per cent) believed that British businesses are better off inside the EU than out of it.

However, this compares to 86 per cent who said that the UK’s membership of the EU is good for British businesses in June 2015, suggesting growing support for Brexit among the business community.

However, 61 per cent of respondents said the UK’s EU membership provides UK businesses with invaluable access to European markets and 48 per cent were concerned that an EU exit risked stifling growth.

Four out of five respondents (81 per cent) claimed that the UK’s membership saddles businesses with unnecessary and problematic regulation.

The BGF Growth Climate Index identified macro-economic conditions (32 per cent) and instability in overseas markets (26 per cent) as the biggest factors holding businesses back from growth. Only 26 per cent expected conditions for growth to improve over the next quarter with 42 per cent expecting them to stay the same.

Paul Oldham, BGF’s regional director for South West and South Wales, said: “The Growth Climate Index exclusively seeks the views of senior business leaders who are committed to supporting Britain’s most ambitious small and mid-sized businesses. The poll shows that opinion among the South West business community is increasingly divided when it comes to Britain’s membership of the EU.

“It’s also clear that despite uncertainty prompted by the vote, and economic instability overseas, individual businesses remain committed to growth. In uncertain times it is crucial that these companies get the support they need to innovate, export, grow and prosper.”

The research was carried out in February and March 2016 and more than 320 Talent Network members took part in the online survey.

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