By Ryan Weeks on Monday 30 July 2018
The finding is based on a survey of nearly a thousand Funding Circle borrowers.
As supply-stockpiling horror stories pile up in the papers, leading fintech lender Funding Circle has unveiled new research on the Brexit sentiments of the UK’s small business community.
An ‘absolute majority’ (56 per cent) of respondents to an online survey said they would vote to remain in the European Union (EU) if a referendum was held today. 32 per cent indicated they would vote to leave.
The survey was sent to small businesses that have either borrowed from Funding Circle in the past or expressed an interest in doing so. It received 965 responses between 21 June and 8 July.
Funding Circle carried out a similar survey in April 2017. At that time, 49 per cent of businesses said they were in favour of remaining in the EU.
In a statement, Funding Circle co-founder and UK Managing Director, James Meekings, said of the results: “Small business owners have on the whole been supportive of a softer Brexit whenever we have spoken to them. Now we’re seeing their sentiment shift even further, with more of them than ever before saying they would support remaining in the EU and a majority wanting to make sure their voice is heard with a vote on the final deal.”
Asked how they would vote if a second referendum was held today, 11 per cent of SMEs fell in the ‘undecided’ and ‘I would rather not say’ camps. Funding Circle points out that even if these undecideds were all to side with leave, remain voters would retain an overwhelming majority.
Furthermore, 56 per cent of survey respondents believe the people of the UK should be offered a vote on the final deal that will establish Britain’s relationship with the EU going forwards, prior to the point of departure in March 2019.
Prime Minister Theresa May recently steered her Trade Bill through the Commons, with a narrow win against rebel Conservatives keen to keep Britain in Customs Union if no agreement on frictionless trade were reached by 21 January 2019.
Funding Circle’s research also covered this. 45 per cent of its respondents see access to either the Customs Union or Single Market, or both, as ‘important to their business’, while 57 per cent cite exporting and importing as the main reason. Meanwhile, just 7 per cent believe their business would benefit from ‘no longer participating in either’.
The research is by no means the first time the UK fintech sector has thrown its weight behind calls for a second referendum. In May, more than 80 tech leaders signed up to Tech For UK, a new group petitioning government to back a second vote by the people on the terms of Brexit. The campaign featured a number of well-known fintech faces, including Zopa, MarketInvoice and Kreditech chairman Giles Andrews.
Funding Circle is the UK and Europe’s largest peer-to-peer lending firm, with over £3.5bn lent to date in the UK alone. Beyond the UK, the platform has established a significant presence in the Netherlands, Germany and in the US.
The company is sizing up a landmark £1.5bn IPO on the London Stock Exchange for later this year.