Small business confidence in the South West has suffered a major fall according to the latest quarterly report by Britain’s biggest business group.
The FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) report for the spring quarter shows that improvements in confidence reported at the start of the year have been dramatically reversed, and positivity in the region’s SMEs is now at its lowest levels since the pandemic.
According to the organisation, the downturn in confidence reflects growing concerns over the general economic picture, the rising costs of doing business and an ongoing recruitment and staffing crisis. Nervousness about the future is also reflected in the reduced number of South West businesses predicting they will grow in the next 12 months.
On the positive side, more local SMEs say they are likely to add to their staffing numbers in the next quarter rather than reduce them and, despite difficult trading conditions, nearly one in five of those polled in the region say they plan to increase investment in the coming three months.
Reflecting on the report, FSB South West regional policy representative Craig Carey-Clinch said: “We must just hope that our report and its findings will serve to remind both regional and national policymakers that they can’t simply take our local SMEs for granted.
“Without practical support and understanding of the many issues facing small businesses we will see more of them struggling throughout 2022 and that can only be bad news for the region and also for Great Britain plc as a whole.”
The regional report is part of the wider national FSB quarterly survey which echoed the findings seen in the South West and showed confidence falling heavily throughout the UK.
“The cost of doing business crisis has worsened to the point where confidence is now lower than during last year’s massively disrupted festive trading season,” said FSB National Chair Martin McTague.
“We’re looking to prime ministerial candidates for unequivocally pro-business, pro-growth commitments. There is still time to act, but time is of the essence.”
The full South West report can be downloaded at https://www.fsb.org.uk/resources-page/south-west-small-business-index-q2--2022.html