Businesses back hub to support SMEs outside of London

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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have called for the creation of a hub to support small businesses outside of London.

Research from insurer Axa found nine out of 10 (89 per cent) of directors backed the formation of an SME hub.

Almost a third (31 per cent) said the creation of a centre, which could provide subsidised business rates, legal advice and financial advice, would be “extremely beneficial” to the UK economy.

SMEs’ views were not split by geography, with 84 per cent of South East-based businesses agreeing that a non-London hub could bring economic benefits.

Seven out of 10 (71 per cent) of the 400 directors surveyed also felt the high concentration of businesses in the South East is a “risk to the economy”.

Almost two thirds (60 per cent) said location had limited their ability to get competitive rates from the bank.

A quarter of respondents said geography had a significant impact.

Birmingham and Manchester were the most popular locations, tipped by 27 and 26 per cent of respondents respectively.

Leeds was joint third with Bristol, with both cities chosen by nine per cent of those surveyed.

Axa has called for a special taskforce to look into the infrastructure and requirements of such a hub and for Anna Soubry MP, the new Minister for Business and Enterprise, to ensure the issue is given prominence in Westminster.

Amanda Blanc, chief executive of Axa’s commercial business said: “There is a critical need for legal, financial and regulatory advice and a more structured model to access funding so the hub could take the form of a ‘national business advice centre’.”