Small business confidence increasing, but remains below pre-Brexit levels

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

  • Small Firms Association Annual Conference will discuss biggest challenges facing small business, including wage inflation, Brexit and a slowdown in domestic economic growth
  • Confidence among small business has increased in last six months, but remains below pre-Brexit levels
  • 72% of small firms planning to invest, 60% will create additional jobs

Speaking ahead of the Small Firms Association (SFA) annual conference, sponsored by One4all, taking place on Wednesday, 24 May, Linda Barry, Acting Director of the Small Firms Association (SFA), stated: "Confidence among small business owners has increased strongly over the past six months but is still below the levels we saw last year, prior to the Brexit vote. 61% of SFA members believe the business environment is improving and 51% say that their own businesses are growing. Almost three-quarters intend to invest in their business in the coming year, with brand development, staffing and IT as the main investment priorities. It is encouraging to see that 60% of small businesses intend to create additional jobs over the coming year.

"The SFA annual conference is an opportunity to discuss the challenges facing small businesses. The latest SFA Summer Business Sentiment Survey, released today, shows that the biggest risks identified by small businesses are wage inflation, Brexit and domestic economic stagnation. Our conference theme is about being 'better than best' and this is particularly fitting in our current uncharted climate. Competitiveness will be key to sustaining our growing economy and our businesses in the months ahead.

"We want Government to have the determination and courage to support small business and have confidence that those firms will deliver on growth and job creation given the right environment. In order to achieve this, we need Government to prioritise:
  1. An end to discrimination against the self-employed in the tax system by increasing the self-employed Earned Income Tax Credit to the same level as the PAYE tax credit.
  2. Introducing a workable employee share option scheme to help small firms attract talent.
  3. Investment in infrastructure at a level that reflects our growing population and our economic ambitions."

    For further comment or interview, contact Linda Barry, SFA Acting Director, on tel: 01 6051626 / 087 1472811 or email:

    Editor’s note

    SFA Chair, Sue O’Neill, will deliver her address to the conference at 10am. This will be followed by an address by Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, at 10.15am. Ibec CEO Danny McCoy will speak at 11.15am.

    Full details of the SFA Annual Conference, including an agenda, are available on

    Photographs will be released on the day by Gary O'Neill:

    For the latest updates, follow us on Twitter: @SFA_Irl #sfaconf

    The SFA’s Summer Business Sentiment Survey was conducted in May 2017, with 742 companies responding from a sample of 2,500.

    The SFA is the trusted partner of over 8,500 small businesses (less than 50 employees) in Ireland. Its vision is of Ireland as the most vibrant small business community in the world – supporting entrepreneurship, valuing small business and rewarding risk takers.