FSB LATEST: Business confidence down again
By Simon Hacker | 7th November 2023
Despite a more upbeat feeling elsewhere on UK map, confidence among small businesses in Gloucestershire has fallen again.
The data from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) comes within its findings for the South West and generally indicate confidence has fallen for a second consecutive quarter.
As a regular snapshot of how small businesses are coping, the FSB says that after a bright start to the year, local confidence levels are now ebbing further. Overall, it says, "the South West has plunged to the bottom of the regional league table for SME positivity".
FSB regional policy chair, Craig Carey-Clinch, said that general tone of this quarter's report is worrying: "Usually when we release these reports they offer quite a mixed picture on growth, investment, revenue and jobs but for this quarter most of the indicators are in negative territory and the overall headline confidence figure continues to be at a much lower level than we would want.
General economic conditions was cited as the biggest barrier to growth by nearly two thirds of respondents in the South West, with consumer demand and utility costs also contributing to the concerns as the cost of doing business crisis continues to grow.
In addition, more of the SME business owners polled in our region say they will reduce staff numbers rather than increase them, while 15% of businesses told the survey they intend to 'contract' (as in downsize or sell) in the next 12 months - a marked increase on the previous quarter.
Mr Carey-Clinch added: "Our report shows that small businesses are still clearly in an uncertain economic position and the fear is that as we are now heading for the crucial winter period there is little evidence that the growing nervousness around the SME community in the South West is set to quickly lift.
"It is important therefore that the Government and other key stakeholders do all they can to show their support for small businesses, so we can try to get the economy working again and reverse these worrying trends in the South West."
The regional figures in the latest quarterly national FSB confidence report found that London proved the most optimistic of regions.
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