FSB: Outlook still far from rosy for small firms

Responding to Office for National Statistics figures showing that GDP rose by 0.1% in November 2022 compared with the previous month, but fell by 0.3% for the three months to November, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chair Martin McTague said: “The 0.1% growth in November is encouraging, but the concerns that small businesses have over the economy’s direction of travel have not been laid to rest, even though the men’s football World Cup gave a fillip to the hospitality sector as people gathered to watch games.

“With costs remaining high for small firms and households alike, policymakers cannot rest on their laurels. Inflation needs to be brought down, there remains huge uncertainty over energy prices, and consumer confidence remains stubbornly low.

“We’re hearing from small businesses who aren’t just worried for themselves and their own firms – they are worried for the future of their fellow local businesses, and the vibrancy of their community.

“The recently-announced Energy Bill Discount Scheme will do little to stem these concerns. It is utterly inadequate given the scale of the challenge at hand, with countless small businesses teetering on the edge, and will likely see some firms forced to increase prices in April.

“The very last thing we need is accelerating closures of small businesses, leading to a lower level of economic activity, fewer jobs, and, ultimately, less tax revenue for public services.

“The Government needs to grasp the scale of the threat that remains. Helping relieve financial pressure on small firms through expanding business rate relief, cracking down on late payments, and expanding the energy support would all be welcomed with open arms by small firms who are doing their best in very difficult circumstances.”