Speaking about today’s release by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on jobs figures, Ben Francis, Policy Chair at FSB Wales stated:
“While these figures are, on the face of it encouraging, they don’t reflect the lived experience of many Welsh businesses.
Labour costs are rising, key sectors face a critical shortage of labour, cost and supply of materials and the unpredictability of supply chains mean that many businesses still find themselves in a vulnerable state and strong recovery from the Pandemic is by no means a given.
With the end of furlough only weeks away, policymakers cannot afford to be complacent. Seven in ten of the million plus people in the UK supported by the job retention scheme belong to businesses with fewer than 50 staff. It’s the smallest employers, and their teams, that will bear the brunt of furlough’s wind-down. With that deadline approaching many Welsh businesses face challenging decisions in an uncertain environment.
FSB’s recent Small Business Index indicated firms in Wales hopeful of recruiting over the coming months and UK and Welsh Government both need to consider what measures can underpin that confidence in coming weeks and months and help turn that hope into reality.
What small businesses are looking for at this point are measures to facilitate the confidence and cashflow they need to retain and recruit as we head into the critical final quarter of the year. As such, last week’s announcement by UK Government of National Insurance Contributions and dividend tax hikes came as a real blow.
The UK Government has previously recognised the need to protect small firms from employer NICs – the jobs tax – with the Employment Allowance. We’re now encouraging it to go further: uprating the allowance to support firms struggling with recruitment costs, freeing up cashflow to spur recovery of local communities, and promote hiring as furlough ends.
There is an additional need for Welsh Government to consider now how its Young Person’s Guarantee can be utilised to address some of the skills shortages within the Welsh economy while giving rewarding careers, training and developmental experience to younger people across the country. We’d like to see clarity as to how Welsh Government intends to use this scheme to support economic re-growth”.
As experts in business, FSB offers members a wide range of vital business services, including advice, financial expertise, support and a powerful voice in Government. Its aim is to help smaller businesses achieve their ambitions.