Confidence amongst UK small businesses has 'fallen to its lowest point since 2011', the quarterly Small Business Index (SBI) published by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed.
The SBI currently stands at -9.9 – which, according to the FSB, reflects a 'level of pessimism not seen since the aftermath of the financial crash'.
The FSB also found that 43% of firms expect their performance to worsen over the coming months. A further 67% of businesses do not expect to increase capital investment in the next three months, according to the SBI.
'We've not seen political uncertainty weighing on small business confidence like this for many years. Planning ahead has now become impossible for a lot of firms as we simply don't know what environment we'll be faced with in little more than 100 days' time,' said Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB.
'A pro-business Brexit is one that ensures we can trade easily with the EU and have access to the skills we need. The latter is already proving a challenge, and – if we crash out of the EU on 29 March without a deal – the former will go out the window.'
However, the SBI also revealed that some small firms are continuing to recruit, with 16% having taken on a new member of staff in the past three months. An additional 68% have increased pay, and 50% of firms plan to grow their business over the next 12 months.