According to our latest research, small firms are struggling to expand, hire and raise productivity as political uncertainty leaves them increasingly in limbo.

Our latest Quarterly Small Business Index (SBI) shows that the considerable majority (72 per cent) of small firms are not planning to increase capital investment in their businesses over the coming quarter. The figure is at its highest since Q2 2017. According to the ONS, business investment fell for four straight quarters last year for the first time since the financial crash.

More than a third (35 per cent) of small firms say accessing appropriately skilled staff is now a major barrier to growth – the biggest proportion since Q3 2015. The net balance of small businesses that are increasing headcounts – the proportion of those hiring new staff less the proportion reducing their team size – stands at a three-year low (-2 per cent).

This fourth consecutive negative reading is a first for the index, which launched in 2010.

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We urgently need political stability. Candidates need to spell out how they will support business and how they will secure a pro-business Brexit – one that encompasses a comprehensive deal and a substantial transition period. Fast and loose talk about accepting a chaotic no-deal Brexit in four months’ time is not helpful.

Lifting productivity among the smaller firms that make-up 99 per cent of our business community is a must. But until we have the political certainty that enables small businesses to plan and to take calculated risks, achieving that goal will remain elusive.

Our businesses and the economy as a whole are weathering the current political uncertainty with remarkable resilience.

However, it would be foolish for politicians and policymakers to take this for granted.

Political games are all well and good. But this protracted uncertainty will not help to keep the lights on or put meals on the table for the millions of voters looking for an end to the currently volatile outlook.

It’s time for stability and leadership... and it’s long overdue.