Small business confidence in
the North West recovers despite increasing costs
SMALL business confidence has recovered
in the North West despite increasing operating costs, according to the
Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)'s latest quarterly Small Business Index (SBI).
The SBI, which reflects how firms expect to perform over the coming ¼,
reached +5 across the region in Q4 2016, up from -14 in the previous 3
months. This means that more businesses feel confident than pessimistic. Small
business confidence rose to +8.5 for the UK as a whole in Q4.
Almost all (87%) of small firms in the North West expect to remain the same size
or expand over the coming year. 28% exporters surveyed expect to increase
overseas sales in the next ¼.
Small businesses in the region face challenges, however. 62% report an increase
in the cost of doing business compared to the same period in 2016, with labour
costs mentioned most frequently as the main cause of this increase (25%).
Chris Burgess, Chairman of FSB Merseyside, West Cheshire and Wigan, said:-
"Small business confidence is showing resilience following the uncertainty
reported in the wake of the Brexit vote, which is good news.
In particular, small exporters continue to be ambitious. The fall in the value
of the pound will certainly have had an impact but we shouldn't underestimate
efforts to make UK goods and services more competitive overseas and help small
businesses go out to find new markets and new customers, including the
International Festival for Business in Liverpool in the summer.
However, with business costs rising, significant challenges lie ahead for small
business owners and there is still a long way to go to create an enterprise
environment in the UK that genuinely supports business growth. This will become
more urgent as we move closer to leaving the EU.
We look forward to a March budget which simply must be pro-business and
pro-growth; increasing the Employment Allowance to help small firms boost job
creation would be a good place to start.
In addition, FSB is committed to working with local agencies in Liverpool City Region, Cheshire and Greater Manchester to make the region the best it can be in
which to start and grow a business."
The next FSB Small Business Index for the 1st ¼ of 2017 will be
published in April 2017.