Nucleus: 52% of SMEs confused by ‘levelling up’ agenda

More than half (52%) of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are confused about the government’s plans to ‘level up’, according to research from Nucleus Commercial Finance.


This was felt most strongly among medium sized businesses (65%), followed by small (50%) and micro (49%) businesses.

Younger business owners, aged 18 to 34, were the most confused (68%) about the levelling up agenda, compared with 40% of those aged over 55.

Half (50%) of SMEs did not know what ‘levelling up’ the country would mean for their business.

Nearly six in 10 (56%) SMEs believed regional inequalities were impacting their ability to attract investment, while 55% said they were affecting their ability to hire highly skilled workers.

Regional inequalities are also found to be having an effect on SME finances, with 47% saying they are impacting the financial health of their business, and four in 10 (42%) saying regional differences have affected their ability to get a loan from a bank.

The research also showed that 30% of business leaders thought that the government would deliver on its levelling up agenda.

Chirag Shah, chief executive of Nucleus Commercial Finance, said: “Despite the levelling up agenda being a central idea of Boris Johnson’s government, SME leaders remain confused about what this is and how it will impact their business.

“In addition, it’s particularly concerning that they feel regional inequalities are putting financial pressures on their business and are severely impacting their opportunities to succeed.

“As SMEs are the backbone of the economy and will play a crucial role in helping the UK recover from the impact of the pandemic, it is vital that the levelling up whitepaperprovides clarity for SMEs.

“This is an opportunity for the government to reinforce its commitment to level the playing field and put its promises into action.”

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