Confidence rising among small firms as lockdown is eased
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It’s latest survey showed that close to two thirds (58 per cent) of small businesses expect their performance to improve this quarter, and fewer than one in three (31 per cent) expect theirs will worsen, according to the latest FSB study of almost 1,700 business owners.
The business group reported that its UK SBI confidence measure has risen to +27.3 in Q1 of this year, up from -49.3 last quarter. The index is at its highest level since Q3 2014 and is in positive territory for the first time since Q2 2018.
But it is calling for calls for cuts to hiring costs amid redundancy fears, and renewed efforts to tackle late payments which has risen amid lockdown.
FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “It’s fantastic that our shops, hairdressers and gyms can get back to doing what they do best all over England from today, with some restrictions easing in other parts of the UK as well.
“The certainty provided by the Government’s road-map is filling many small business owners with renewed confidence. We live in hope that the virus stays in retreat so the remaining indicative dates for unlocking can be met, enabling our vital night time economies, offices and travel and tourism businesses to get back to it as well.
“It’s worrying to see such a sizeable proportion of employers fearing redundancies over the coming months. Initiatives like Kickstart, as well as incentives to take on apprentices and trainees, need to be delivered efficiently over the coming months to protect against a job market shock and support the young people that have disproportionately borne the brunt of rising unemployment.
“Policymakers also need to look at measures to encourage hiring activity. Bringing down the non-wage costs of employment, starting with employer national insurance contributions, which essentially serve as a jobs tax, would certainly help.
“Lockdowns have caused our £23bn late payment crisis to deepen. As confidence returns, now is the time to bring forward reforms that will help audit committees gain full visibility of payment practices."