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SMEs defy recession

The majority of the UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises are bullish about their prospects in ‘the worst recession in living memory’, with 54 per cent claiming
that they are confident their business will survive the downturn, according to new research.

The study, commissioned by specialist business insurer Hiscox, found the UK’s small businesses in confident mood, with 48 per cent having taken no additional measures to ride out the downturn. Even those that have been forced to take action have avoided any drastic measures.

Eighty-eight per cent have not enforced salary cuts, while 87 per cent have continued with bonus payments. Eighty-five per cent are still wining and dining clients and staff, making no cuts to entertainment budgets, and 82 per cent are continuing to spend the same amount as previously on office maintenance.

Unlike larger companies, the UK’s small businesses have also, for the most part, been able to avoid redundancies, with just nine per cent opting for layoffs.

However, despite this seemingly positive outlook, the majority of SMEs think
the recession will continue beyond 2009. Seven per cent believe that the economy will improve by the end of this year. Forty-five per cent don’t predict a recovery before September 2010, while 23 per cent believes Britain will be mired in recession until 2011 or beyond.

Alan Thomas, small business insurance expert at Hiscox UK, says: “SMEs are an integral part of the UK’s business landscape and an important indicator of the health of the national economy, so it’s good to see that many are so confident about their survival prospects and have avoided some of the more difficult measures such as salary
cuts and redundancies.”

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