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27 March 2018

Small business confidence rebounds in Wales

New research has shown that small business confidence has bounced back at the start of 2018 following a sharp fall at the end of 2017.

The Welsh Small Business Index climbed to 16.3 – higher than the 6.0 seen across the UK as a whole. Indeed, small businesses in Wales are more confident than their counterparts in each of the UK nations.

Wales is the most confident of the UK nations in the first part of 2018. Both the UK and Wales saw confidence pick up markedly in the first quarter of 2018. The Small Business Index was 16.3 in Wales and 6.0 across the UK as a whole.

Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair, commented: “It is heartening to see that business confidence in Wales has increased in the first part of 2018, and that Welsh businesses are some of the most confident in the UK.

“Welsh exporters have increased in confidence and are also upbeat about the coming months with a quarter of businesses anticipating a growth in exports in the next quarter. This is a good time for Welsh and UK Governments to involve smaller Welsh firms in trade missions and support them to trade overseas.”

The key concerns cited by small businesses were the domestic economy, consumer demand and the availability of skilled staff. 47.8% of businesses thought that the domestic economy was a barrier to growth. The survey also registered a decline in employment growth. A net balance of 1.4% increased employment in Q1. This is down on the 2.0% registered in Q4 and the 11.0% average seen over 2017. Around three quarters of firms said their headcount remained about the same.

Ben Francis continued: “As Brexit negotiations continue these figures make for reassuring reading, but politicians must remember that the domestic economy, consumer demand and the availability of skilled staff are the issues concerning businesses here in Wales.

“This is the first FSB survey which has been published since the Welsh Government announced the Economic Action Plan, and highlights several issues for our policy makers to consider when creating the conditions under which our businesses can thrive, and to ensure that the Economic Action Plan has a real and tangible impact on businesses in Wales.”

 

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