As part of the launch of the UK~IRC, the Centre for Business Research at the University of Cambridge presented the latest findings from its long-running surveys of SMEs. The latest survey for 2008 produced new findings about how SMEs are coping with the credit crunch and recession. The report makes comparisons with earlier periods and, in particular, 2004 and the recession of the early 1990s. It also examines which types of firm have been most affected by the credit crunch and the consequences for R&D, capital expenditure and training, and SME policy.
We find that the recession at the end of 2008 was worse than in 1991 but, despite this, SME finances were holding up better. On the other hand growth prospect were much lower and the level of demand was seen by SMEs as their principal constraint. This constraint was felt more strongly by growth-oriented and innovative firms, but these groups were more optimistic about the outcomes of various policy initiatives. The report, which is available to download from the "Output" tab, ends with a discussion of possible policy measures.