ECI Partners’ 2015 Growth Survey claims strong opposition to EU exit as skills shortages start to bite
Fast-growing companies in the UK strongly oppose leaving the EU in the upcoming referendum on membership, according to a report by ECI Partners.
The ECI Partners’ 2015 Growth Survey is based on a poll of more than 300 UK companies that have demonstrated growth of 5% or more in the past 12 months.
It suggests around nine in ten (91%) oppose leaving the EU. Significantly, this is exactly the same percentage that claim to be suffering from skills shortages. It is seen as a “significant problem” in 15% of businesses.
Away from the questions about Brexit there is optimism about securing finance in the near future. Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents said they felt confident of securing the funding they needed for growth – the highest number since the survey was first conducted in 2010.
Private equity funding is proving a popular choice for those looking for growth capital. Almost seven in ten (69%) of those asked said they were looking to the private equity route in the near future – the highest number since 2011.
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Despite widespread concern about productivity it is booming among growth businesses. A total of 86% of growth businesses said it had increased over the past three years.
Former chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander said the research gave “clues as to why fast growing businesses, the real drivers of our economic recovery, are so overwhelmingly pro-Europe”.
“Exporting businesses see Europe as a key market. Firms facing skills shortages can recruit across the EU,” he continued.
“Many foresee the negative consequences of Brexit for their businesses. To thrive in a competitive global economy, I believe that Britain needs to be fully engaged in Europe.”
Charlie Johnstone, partner at ECI Partners, added that the findings show that high-growth companies “continue to battle with serious obstacles including widespread skills shortages, and the impact of the strong pound”.
“They must also contend with growing uncertainty around the planned referendum on EU membership,” he said.
“However there is plenty to celebrate too. Productivity is improving and access to finance is easier than ever, and it is particularly welcoming to see that high growth businesses increasingly see private equity as a valid source of finance.”
Further reading: Four in ten SMEs see EU as hindrance to business