Positive signs among falling confidence
By Rob Freeman | 13th November 2020
Confidence among the South West's small businesses continues to fall - but there are some glimmers of positivity.
The Federation of Small Businesses latest quarterly report revealed South West businesses were among the most positive with 40 per cent expecting to grow rapidly in the next 12 months.
And although 18 per cent of SMEs in the region said they had seen a decrease in staff, 15 per cent have increased numbers meaning the South West had the slowest rate of SME employment decline in England.
Despite those seeds of optimism, the figures based on the third quarter from July-September showed confidence is falling among SMEs, both in the the South West and the country.
FSB South West regional chairman Lee Nathan said there are areas of major concern.
He said: "The report shows small firms in the region continue to be adversely affected by the pandemic and national lockdown, particularly in relation to general business conditions and employment intentions.
"Stoicism remains in place with investment intentions expected for many in the next 12 months with the South West showing as positive in comparison to the rest of England.
"It is crucial that our regional businesses are given confidence and certainty at this time, particularly for businesses most in need of support in the hospitality, retail and tourism-related sectors; and not forgetting those working in the supply chains."
He continued: "A lot of small businesses have shelled out thousands to make their premises safe at a time when they had little or no revenue coming in only to be told to close.
"Securing a swift and positive EU deal will provide a fillip for many small businesses at what has been an extremely difficult time".
The South West findings were part of a national FSB report which said business confidence had been in negative territory for two years.
It called on the Government to help restore positivity and offer more support, particularly to businesses that feel left behind.
FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: "Too many small businesses are still without the help they need to weather current disruption - not least company directors, the newly self-employed, those without premises and those further down supply chains in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.
"An ambitious rescue package for these groups is urgently needed. Local authorities should also use their new discretionary funds being allocated to assist them wherever possible."
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