A poll carried out among owner-managed businesses across the country by Clifton Asset Management has found one third of UK companies believe the media is in danger of “talking the economy into recession.”

The survey, also found that almost three-quarters of SMEs would not trust Alistair Darling with their own company finances by appointing him as their FD.

The majority (65 per cent) said the Chancellor showed no signs of being “business friendly”, and not a single one believed that Gordon Brown’s government acknowledges the value to the UK economy of the small business sector.
The research also found that the majority of owner-managed businesses (56 per cent) feel totally neglected by their bank since the onset of the credit crunch.

Ellis Organ, financial director of Clifton Asset Management, said: “While there can be no denying the gravity of the situation facing the UK economy, many businesses – 33 per cent – clearly feel that media commentators seem determined to talk us into a full-blown recession, with only 15 per cent of respondents to our survey agreeing with the view that a recession is imminent.

“Only 11 per cent told us that they are seeing the symptoms of a major downturn, with approaching half of those who took part in our survey highlighting strong order books and no noticeable increase in problems over issues such as late payment.”

“Only one in five owner-managers in our survey said they would consider employing Alistair Darling as their FD – but not without references and a thorough interview process, leaving just 6 per cent who have real confidence in his ability,” said Ellis Organ.

Credit Crunch
The survey found that reaction to the credit crunch by banks is causing problems for some businesses. Of those surveyed, 14 per cent said their existing facility had been reduced, or that higher interest rates and collateral security had been imposed. Although, 28 per cent said their bank had been happy to extend facilities with no change in interest or security arrangements.

Ellis Organ stated: “While 15 per cent of our survey sample said they had seen a noticeable upturn in the amount of contact they received from their bank, eager to check on their exposure and solidity, some 56 per cent felt that they may as well not even exist as their bank is concerned.

There is a widespread feeling that Gordon Brown’s government does not appreciate the contribution that SME’s make to the economy.

Only 4 per cent of firms said decisions such as the recent U-turn on capital gains tax were proof that their contribution is recognised by government, while 9 per cent say there is some element of appreciation, notwithstanding a reduction in tax benefits for owner-managed businesses.

Ellis Organ concluded by stating: “This leaves 85 per cent in our survey effectively feeling snubbed by this government.

“For most of these, there is no question that the ever-burgeoning mountain of red tape is their biggest headache, and that Gordon Brown’s promise to “light a red tape bonfire” remains an empty one.

“The people who responded to our survey, and countless others like them across the country, form the backbone of our economy. Our survey highlights once again that these individuals continue to feel ignored by… a government which only appears to pay attention to the concerns of big business.”

The survey was commissioned by Clifton Asset Management, the country’s leading alternative to banks for owner-managed business finance and strategic planning.