Whatever your business, the FSB will work for you.
Infrastructure affects all small businesses. The way transport is organised, the availability of superfast broadband as well as the cost and availability of energy all play a vital role to a small business's operation.
Small businesses depend on their car/van to operate their business - 72 per cent of small firms said their car/van is crucial to their business.
We have warned that more needs to be done to address the problem of congestion and the state of repair of UK roads, in order to get businesses moving and growing. A well functioning transport system incorporating all modes of transport, rather than looking at ech mode individually is crucial to small rural businesses.
Our research shows that half of small businesses believe the poor state of the UK's roads has cost their business up to £5,000 in the past 12 months. This is a huge figure considering that the average turnover for small firms is around £500,000.
We argue that more strategic planning and management of transport can help markets work more effectively. Rebalancing the funds collected from road users and the amount invested back into improving the road network would prevent the poor state of roads and high levels of congestion from costing small firms.
High quality broadband services are essential for businesses to increase the UK's productivity and growth. Our research shows that nine per cent cannot access broadband at all and 22 per cent cannot access current
Read More generation broadband. We are concerned that the Government is creating a divide between rural and urban areas, yet both rural and urban businesses will rely on the internet to grow.
As with broadband services, mobile network provision is patchy. The FSB is urging Government to finalise the 4G spectrum auction as a matter of urgency to connect small businesses on the move.
What we have done
The national infrastructure plan shows the Government is committed to delivering broadband connections significantly greater than the 2Mbps, advertised in its broadband strategy. Greater broadband speeds will bring greater opportunities for small businesses.
The Government has announced a target of 10 super connected cities by 2015. This is great news for businesses in those cities but high speed broadband needs to be delivered UK-wide to bring greater certainty for business and economic returns. Network expansion should be prioritised by not just the number of households but the number of businesses.
Small businesses use energy and water in a similar way to domestic households, yet they lack the safeguards that domestic consumers are given. Our research shows that eight in 10 small businesses are worried about
Read more rising energy costs and very few (18%) understand energy contracts. We are campaigning for small firms to be given the same safeguards as domestic users to prevent energy bills rising further.
What we have done
We have been instrumental in campaigning against unfair energy contract terms for small businesses. The energy regulator OFGEM conducted an investigation into unfair practices on small firms. The FSB was heavily involved in this work and raised concerns including the transparency and fairness of contract terms. Due to our lobbying, OFGEM introduced a 'micro business' category that gives protection to small firms.
Many small businesses lack the expertise to negotiate contracts and are penalised by energy suppliers because of their limited purchasing power, relatively low energy consumption and unpredictability of demand. Small businesses lack the expertise of large businesses and the regulatory protection afforded to the domestic consumers. We are calling on Ofgem to think small first when it announces the findings of its current retail market review.