Half of SMEs believe that the UK’s roads and public transport system have deteriorated in recent years.
A report by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found only one in 10 (10%) small business owners thought roads and public transport had got better – demonstrating a real need to prioritise infrastructure investment in local and rural road networks alongside big projects on the Strategic Road Network.
FSB found small businesses are overwhelmingly reliant on roads, with nine in 10 firms (89%) placing high value on the network. Rural businesses are even more likely to rely on roads as they often report little or no access to public transport links like rail or buses.
FSB would like to see current and future devolution deals used as an opportunity for new combined authorities to commit to greater investment in local transport infrastructure. Protecting transport spending, alongside better strategic planning, investing in the local road network and public transport will all help support UK small businesses.
FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said that the lion’s share of government investment in transport goes to big flagship projects on the strategic road network. SMEs rely on local roads and there is a clear case to invest in these smaller projects.
He said: “The current devolution agenda in England presents a real opportunity to make a positive difference to rural communities. Small businesses want to see more resources earmarked for rural transport. This will help support rural small businesses as well as the UK tourism industry, which are both disproportionately affected when local bus networks and roads are left to deteriorate.”
The top three issues reported by businesses based in rural areas were: congestion on local roads, potholes and the cost of fuel. FSB would like to see these issues addressed directly in any new local devolution deals so that funds can be protected to better maintain roads and support small firms.