The majority of freelancers and micro-businesses in the UK think that Brexit would be damaging for economy and would favour holding a second referendum, new research has revealed.

In a poll of more than 500 micro-business owners carried out by cloud accounting software company FreeAgent, more than two thirds of respondents (66%) said they believed Brexit would have a negative impact on the economy – while just 13% said they thought it would have a positive impact.

The survey was designed to gather opinions from people who run businesses with fewer than 10 employees – a 5.2 million-strong group that comprises around 95% of the UK’s total number of businesses.

Among the other findings in the survey were that 60% of respondents said they would be in favour of holding a second Brexit referendum, compared to just 26% who said they would oppose such a move. And just 7% of micro-business owners said that they believed Brexit would have a positive impact on their own businesses – compared to 38% who said they thought leaving the EU would have negative consequences for them.

Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent – whose software is specifically-designed to meet the needs of freelancers, micro-businesses and their accountants – said: “The economic impact of major changes like Brexit tend to be only measured in terms of how they will affect large corporations and SMEs. But there are also millions of smaller enterprises and freelance businesses that will be impacted when the UK leaves the European Union.

“Our research actually paints a pretty stark picture about how these business owners currently view Brexit. Far from being optimistic, the majority are actually fearful that leaving the EU will have dire consequences for the economy – and many believe that Brexit will also be bad for their own businesses.

“The fact that nearly two thirds of respondents are also in favour of a second referendum over the UK’s withdrawal from the EU should be cause for concern as we seemingly continue on the path towards a hard Brexit.

“Given that micro-businesses comprise 95% of the UK’s total number of businesses, there is clearly a significant section of the economy that is feeling anxious about the post-Brexit future. I hope that the government keeps the concerns of these micro-business owners front of mind and makes sure that they are fully informed throughout the whole of the Brexit process.”

Research results

What impact do you think Brexit will have on the UK economy?

  • It will have a negative impact on the economy        – 66%
  • I don’t know                                                                   – 13%
  • It will have a positive effect on the economy            – 13%
  • It will have little or no effect on the economy          – 8%

What impact do you think Brexit will have on your business?

  • It will have little or no impact on my business      – 40%
  • It will have a negative impact on my business      – 38%
  • I don’t know                                                                – 15%
  • It will have a positive impact on my business        – 7%

What do you think about the prospect of a second referendum about the UK leaving the European Union?

  • I would be in favour of holding a second referendum           – 60%
  • I would oppose holding a second referendum                        – 26%
  • I feel neutral about the prospect of a second referendum    – 12%
  • I don’t know                                                                                   – 2%

Figures, unless otherwise stated, are from FreeAgent. Total sample size for this question was 594 owners of UK micro-businesses with fewer than 10 employees. The survey was carried out online between April 6th – May 24th 2018.

About FreeAgent

FreeAgent provides cloud accounting software specifically-designed to meet the needs of contractors, freelancers, micro businesses and the accountants they work with. More than 60,000 customers currently use the award-winning system to manage and maintain their business accounts, track time, log expenses, create and send invoices, forecast their tax bills and file their Self Assessment and VAT returns directly to HMRC.

FreeAgent won the Best SME Accounts/Bookkeeping category at the 2017 AccountingWEB Software Excellence Awards and is a former winner at the British Accountancy Awards. The company is a FCSA partner and has been listed twice on the Deloitte Fast 50, as well as being named “one to watch” in the Tech Track 100

Since November 2016, FreeAgent Holdings plc (AIM: FREE), has been a quoted company listed on AIM, a market operated by the London Stock Exchange.