The UK has come fifth in a study of which nations offer the best environment for entrepreneurs – beating the US and much of the European Union.
Singapore topped the study of 85 countries, conducted by the Mara Foundation and Opinium Research.
Each country was assessed against a set of criteria that spanned policy, infrastructure, education, entrepreneurial environment and finance.
Fifth place: The UK has come fifth in a study of which nations offer the best environment for entrepreneurs – beating the US and much of the European Union
The UK scored highly on finance, particularly in terms of its attractiveness to investors in venture capital and private equity, bettered only by the US.
But it got a low score for ‘attitudes’, which related to the lack of interest of the average citizen to start their own business.
Ashish Thakkar, founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation – a social enterprise for African entrepreneurs – and a business partner of the former Barclays boss Bob Diamond, said: ‘It has become more and more apparent that governments and the private sector are simply not doing enough to support entrepreneurs in their endeavours.
‘With this index, we hope to provide some solid policy recommendations that will help guide discussions and improve entrepreneurial environments globally.’
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson said the new index ‘will help identify opportunities for business, not-for-profits and government to work together to create the right environment for entrepreneurs to thrive and to create jobs’.
Following last week’s Autumn Statement, Emma Jones, founder of small business network Enterprise Nation, said: ‘It’s absolutely the Government’s responsibility to invest in the infrastructure and technology we need to boost our economy. We all benefit from that. It’s also good news that the rural economy will benefit from business rates relief.
Top of the charts: Singapore topped the study of 85 countries, conducted by the Mara Foundation and Opinium Research
‘But for the only reference to small businesses and the self-employed to be in connection with tax avoidance is worrying. Is this a dawning of a dangerous new era for entrepreneurs in post-Brexit Britain?’
Meanwhile, former Business Secretary Vince Cable said the short-term impact of Brexit ‘is quite negative and this is severely constraining what the Chancellor can do in his Autumn Statement and beyond’.
He said that ‘there wasn’t a great deal’ in it for small firms, and added: ‘The one thing that really gets small businesses wound up is the business rate system, and there hasn’t been radical reform there.
‘Unfortunately, a lot of expectations have been raised by the Brexit process that lots of red tape will somehow be abolished for small business, and I fear this isn’t going to happen, because in the coalition we worked hard to get rid of unnecessary red tape and there isn’t a lot that can easily be done.’
Research by insurer AXA has found the number of small firms expecting to grow in 2017 is severely down on previous years. Just 42 per cent expect to grow in 2017, compared with 55 per cent last year.
Most stark is the effect on hiring plans. Just 10 per cent of small businesses aim to take on new employees next year, against 38 per cent three years ago. The numbers planning to invest in assets are also down from 52 per cent to 29 per cent.
And while the Government has announced an extra £400billion of funding through the British Business Bank, AXA’s research suggested a low appetite for taking on finance.
Twenty-eight per cent of small firms said they would seek finance in the coming year, but for most it will be a survival mechanism in the form of overdrafts or loans from friends and family, rather than investment for growth.
Just four per cent of small businesses said they would seek finance through Government-backed schemes.
Small Business Saturday UK, the campaign to encourage people to shop with small firms, will take place on Saturday December 3.