By Daniel Hunter

A survey of UK small businesses has revealed that official government economic projections play no part in the majority of business leaders’ planning and decision-making.

The survey, commissioned by AXA Business Insurance, found that a significant majority (92 per cent) of respondents are not using official government economic predictions in their planning processes, despite continued uncertainty over the health of the UK economy.

More than half (58 per cent) of those disregarding government forecasts when reviewing their business plans believed that the predictions were not relevant to their business and nearly a third (31 per cent) did not believe them to be accurate.

“The UK’s small business community has long relied on help from a variety of sources to inform their business plans - be they government bodies, trade organisations, industry peers or others," Darrell Sansom, Managing Director, Direct and Partnerships at AXA Business Insurance, said.

"The fact that so many business owners are choosing not to use these sources of data suggests they’re tuning into other channels and finding more accurate information flows elsewhere.”

The survey also found that a majority of respondents (83 per cent) do not plan to seek advice on improving their business from external sources this year.

Of the minority (17 per cent) actively looking for external advice, respondents suggested they were turning to a number of sources, including: industry peers, business networks, accountants and banks, amongst others (see appendix for full breakdown of where business leaders are turning to for advice).

“The old adage that ‘knowledge is power’ has never been more true. In times of economic uncertainty, being equipped with accurate and relevant insights is critical to making informed and impactful business decisions," Sansom continued.

"Though there’ll never be a ‘one-source suits all’ solution, AXA is arming business owners with a range of online tools and resources designed not only for survival, but for continued success.”

The survey was conducted as part of AXA Business Insurance’s Business Guardian Angel resource for UK small businesses, and in support of the launch of its Real-Time Optimism Index — a live barometer of UK business sentiment. As part of the launch, AXA is offering participants the chance to win an iPad 3, simply by registering and submitting their business outlooks.

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