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18 January 2016

North-South divide in small business confidence

The FSB today releases new findings, which shows a growing gap in confidence between businesses in Scotland, North East England and Wales and those in the Midlands and the South of England.

While there is good news for the UK as a whole in terms of job creation, increasing revenues and improving productivity, firms in the North East of England, Scotland and Wales risk being left behind.

The Small Business Index, a measure of small business confidence across the UK shows that in the last 12 months, smaller firms in the North East, Yorkshire, Scotland and Wales have all shown a year-on-year decline in confidence. In Wales, confidence has dropped into negative territory for the first time in two years. In Scotland, confidence levels are at their lowest levels since the start of 2013. Elsewhere confidence levels have remained stable, supported in particular by firms in technology and business/professional services.

Overall confidence across the UK remains in positive territory standing at 21.7 points which is 4.1 points higher than Q4 2014. Nearly two thirds (59%) of businesses anticipate growth relatively unchanged from the last quarter, with almost one in four firms (24%) reporting a growth in revenue in the last three months, the highest since 2010.

Smaller businesses are still leading the way on job creation with firms reporting that they have expanded their staff in the last three months, with more planning to do so this Spring.

Results also show smaller firms are making greater productivity gains and producing more for less. The SBI shows productivity has reached an all time high of three per cent which has doubled in the last 12 months.

Read the full findings of the Small Business Index research and analysis.

If you are an FSB member and would like to take part in future surveys on small business confidence, join our Big Voice survey panel.

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