UK Small Business Optimism at Lowest Level in Three Years
The introduction of the national living wage and pension auto-enrolment are thought to have contributed to the decline in outlook
UK small business confidence for January to March 2016 is at its lowest level since 2013, according to a report by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
A survey of small business owners, the report argued that the introduction of the national living wage (NLW), pensions auto-enrolment, and plans to introduce mandatory quarterly digital tax reporting, were contributing to the negative outlook.
The uncertainty of the global economy and the UK’s position within the EU were also suggested as possible factors in the drop off in business optimism.
Scottish and Northern Irish business owners were found to be the least confident in the UK, with the fall most noticeable in London and the East of England.
In Wednesday’s Budget, George Osborne unveiled a number of tax breaks for small businesses which were described as “a budget for small business” – the research predates these budget measures.
In addition to the fall in in business confidence, the research highlighted that small businesses financial performance, productivity and hiring intentions are falling year-on-year, particularly in regards to exports.
However, small businesses are now finding it easier to access finance than ever before with a “record” percentage of small companies having made successful credit applications in the past quarter.
Sandra Dexter, FSB vice-chairman, said:
“Small business confidence has clearly faltered, which is why the welcome small business focus in the Budget is so important. We need a renewed push for growth and productivity – with policy makers delivering a sustained package of support for ambitious small firms.”