FSB London has today released its quarterly confidence index showing a mixed picture of uncertainty for small businesses, and a clear need for a reduction in the cost of doing business, to enable a faster recovery.
Although an improvement on the last quarter, confidence amongst businesses in the Capital currently stands at -1 percent on the FSB London Small Business Index (LSBI).
This is the lowest of all UK regions for the second quarter of 2021, lagging behind the UK average score (19 percent).
Other key indicators in the Index:
- Reported gross profit amongst small businesses, shows signs of recovery following a sharp decline during the pandemic. However, this continues to be net negative (-11 percent)
- The employment picture amongst FSB London members over the preceding three months showed that 18 percent had decreased staff numbers, and 17 percent had increased employment levels.
- Investment intentions going into the next quarter are relatively high and stronger than the UK average.
- In London, the general economic conditions in the UK (62 percent), appropriately skilled staff (40 percent) and consumer demand (35 percent) are the greatest perceived barriers to growth over the coming 12 months.
The FSB wants to see no extra employment taxes imposed on small firms looking to create jobs – particularly on National Insurance Contributions for Employers.
The lobbying group has also called for a focus on increasing apprenticeship rates and making sure Kickstart is fully embedded into the economy.
Also on the agenda is a renewed Brexit Support Fund to help with training or professional advice, plus more support for growth businesses looking to invest.
FSB London Policy Chair, Rowena Howie, said: “As we start to emerge out of Covid, it is encouraging to see that confidence levels among FSB members in London are better than six months ago, however, we are still in negative territory and that leaves cause for concern. Especially as confidence in the region still lags behind the UK average and the gap has widened.
“Our quarterly report on local small business confidence shows the figures are down slightly from the first quarter of this year. This is to be expected perhaps, as those spring results reflected a vaccination-inspired upsurge in optimism, and small businesses in the capital are faced with difficulties accessing the right skills in the business caused by the repercussions of the pandemic and Brexit uncertainties.
“A renewed Brexit Support Fund would be a big fillip for small firms looking to create future trade relations.
“We are ‘Recovery Ready’ and Government at all levels must do what they can to embrace and protect that spirit of ambition in the months ahead.”