By Daniel Hunter

As Chancellor George Osborne prepares to deliver a crucial speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, research shows that only a third of senior business leaders in the UK are satisfied with his attempts to stimulate the economy.

Of the world’s leading economies, only the governments of Australia, South Africa and Japan received lower satisfaction ratings. The Netherlands and France — where new President Francois Hollande has just unveiled his first Budget — both received ratings above 90%.

This is one of the key findings of the latest Business Confidence Index (BCI) published by Regus, the world’s largest provider of flexible workplaces, based on the views of more than 3000 senior managers and business owners in the UK.

The research also shows that business confidence among small and start-up businesses in particular has flatlined over the last year. Given the important role of small and medium-sized enterprises as a motor of growth and provider of jobs, this finding is of particular concern. Access to affordable credit and cash-flow were among their biggest concerns.

“Britain’s business leaders are sending a clear message to the Government,” says Steve Purdy, UK Managing Director of Regus “They clearly don’t have much faith in the current policies to stimulate the economic growth which is so badly needed.”

Key Findings and Statistics

- 33% of respondents are satisfied with Government attempts to stimulate the economy.

- UK confidence levels have shown little change compared to six months ago; up 3 points to 94 since April 2012.

- Revenue and profit growth both show some improvement, climbing 2% to 45% and 38% respectively.

- Small businesses and start-ups highlighted the following issues:
1) cash-flow (70%)
2) finding customers (52%)
3) the cost of marketing and promotion (33%)

- Respondents also highlighted key measures for government to introduce that would substantially help small businesses and start-ups. These are:
1) tax exemptions (74%)
2) low interest loans (67%)
3) mentoring schemes (27%)

“There’s been a marked deterioration in business confidence in since our last BCI report in April which suggests that slowing trade with Europe and Western economies, combined with a host of national factors, is taking its toll," Steve Purdy continued.

"If there is some good news it’s that, globally, the proportion of companies reporting revenue growth is stable while profits increased slightly.

“We were particularly struck by the lack of any improvement in confidence amongst entrepreneurs and small businesses. With half of respondents stating cash flow the major issue preventing growth, I urge smaller companies to look in detail at all overheads to find savings that can improve their cash situation.

"45% of respondents, for instance, reported that one of the major burdens during the downturn were property leases. Moving to a flexible work model without a fixed property lease can allow businesses to be more agile and free-up cash for investment without relying on credit at a time when it is so difficult to secure.”

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