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Business

Published on March 18th, 2016 | by The GC Team

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Small business confidence at three-year low

Small businesses are at their lowest level of confidence since 2013, according to the Federation of Small Businesses.

The fall is most noticeable in London and the East of England, but all regions of the UK have seen declines. Scotland and Northern Ireland are the least confident areas overall, with both now in negative territory.

The FSB suggests the cooling in confidence is partly a result of uncertainty about the strength of the UK and global economy. However, it also found strong indication that new challenges such as the National Living Wage, pensions auto-enrolment and plans to introduce mandatory quarterly digital tax reporting were contributing to the decline in business sentiment.

The survey was carried out before the budget, which introduced measures to help small businesses.

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.”

The FSB report also revealed how small businesses’ financial performance, productivity and hiring intentions are all falling year on year.

The first fall in the value of exported goods since 2012 is particularly concerning, the organisation said.

However, Dexter pointed to a number of important measures announced in the budget to help smaller businesses, “particularly changes to business rates which will see many small businesses taken out of paying rates altogether.”

She added that delivering on tax simplification measures will be vital, as will be pressing ahead with new investment in much needed infrastructure.

“Taken together, these measures should help to boost confidence and help small firms to grow and succeed,” she said.

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