Almost half of small businesses have increased their support for their communities, including local charities, over the past year in the face of divisions caused by Brexit, a survey has found.
The report Small Business Community Value, produced by the small business campaigning firm peak b, says that of 500 small businesses surveyed, 42 per cent had increased the practical or financial support they show to organisations in their communities over the past year.
The survey found that, on average, small businesses estimated that they gave support worth about £3,240 a year to community organisations.
Almost nine out of ten (88 per cent) estimated they gave about 10 hours a month to local charities, the report says.
"The majority of businesses state that Brexit has had no significant impact on their activities with the local community," it says.
"However, businesses state that the negativity and division the Brexit debate has caused has led them to be more aware of the importance of community, and in many cases led to an increase in community support."
The increase in support was more likely to take the form of time and skills than increased cash, because of a concern about consumer and business spend post-Brexit, the report says.
Two-thirds of the small businesses surveyed said they believed the community organisations they supported could not otherwise get the expertise the businesses were offering.
Michelle Ovens, founder of peak b, said: "Whatever side of the Brexit debate you are on, it is clear that the past three years have seen increased divisions permeate our national discourse.
"Yet amid all the noise and uncertainty, small businesses are responding in the only way they know how, by increasing their support for their community organisations.
"Our previous research has demonstrated the community-minded nature of small businesses and the contribution they make to schools, charities and business groups in their areas, but it’s now clear that they view this as a responsibility, to bring together communities that might otherwise have been divided through political and economic uncertainty."