News

Small business confidence falls to lowest level for eight years

21 January 2019

Small business confidence has fallen to -9.9, the lowest level since 2011, according to the latest Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Small Business Index.

The data revealed that 67% of small firms do not expect their performance to improve this quarter.

The index revealed that 58% of businesses say the domestic economy is a significant barrier to growth, up from 55% at this time last year.

Access to appropriately skilled staff (36%), lack of consumer demand (29%) and labour costs (21%) are also frequently flagged as primary barriers to growth.

Small businesses in the accommodation and food services (-48%), retail (-44%) and manufacturing (-16%) sectors report some of the lowest index readings.

FSB national chairman, Mike Cherry, said: “Come the beginning of April, small firms will not only have Brexit to worry about but also Making Tax Digital, a higher National Living Wage, rising [pension] auto-enrolment contributions and further business rates hikes. This will be a flashpoint for a lot of businesses, threatening the futures of many.”

The index also shows borrowing costs for small businesses soaring. The proportion of successful credit applicants being offered a borrowing rate of 5% or more has hit a record-high (74%).