Thursday October 13th 2016
Gordon Henderson, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)
Look up a definition of the word confidence and it is generally described as a state of being certain that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective. Small business owners seek stability in their surroundings to reassure them as far as possible that their business plans will be successful, this confidence allows a degree of risk taking that leads to investment and jobs.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) tracks small business confidence quarterly in an index keenly watched by politicians at local and national government levels to give them an idea about business intentions. In the most recent results measured just after June’s Brexit referendum, UK smaller business confidence reached its lowest ebb since 2011 with Scottish business confidence sitting below the UK average.
Scottish small businesses have increased their staff numbers over the past three months in line with the drop in Scottish unemployment, but the fall in business confidence means that recruitment intentions have turned negative.
Whilst the number of firms reporting an expected growth in revenues was positive there was less optimism on the profits side of the equation. However, the report also reveals that many Scottish firms plan to tap cheaper credit to deliver postponed investment plans.
Post the Brexit vote there are a great many question marks about what future trading conditions will be like and FSB is doing a lot of work to seek answers on these for its members. Immediately after the referendum FSB met with the First Minister and asked for a Brexit Information Hub, a single place where businesses can seek information and ask questions – this has now been delivered by the Scottish Government. Tourism businesses here in Midlothian that rely on a ready source of seasonal labour will want to know if tighter immigration rules will impact on their businesses. A great many local businesses trade overseas, will they face a new regulatory burden to access existing customers and will opportunities be opened up to them via new trade deals? How do they access these?
Business owners are worried about where the economy is going. We need those in charge of steering the local and national economies to provide clarity and support for them.Tweet Share on Facebook
Midlothian Councillors work together in ‘Grown up council’ to agree council tax freeze and rent rise