Confidence is growing among small and micro business owners in every sector, and in every nation and region of the UK. Our members want to invest more in their businesses, recruit more people and break into new markets.
Start-ups are being created at an all-time record rate, with more people choosing to be self-employed. We see more diversity among our ranks, with more women and young people setting up in business for the first time.
According to the first quarter results of the FSB’s Small Business Index, confidence in Yorkshire and Humber Business remains strong. Lower business costs and economic conditions are relieving pressure for firms, giving them the confidence to take on staff, make pay increases and access finance from their banks to invest in their business.
Businesses are increasing the number of people they are hiring, figures for the last three months show, twice as strong as 12 months ago. Many are also finally able to reward staff with improved pay, which the results suggest have been supported by rising productivity growth.
However, businesses continue to struggle with skills shortages. Thirty seven per cent tell us that employing someone with the right skills is a barrier for them to grow their business. And this is on the increase.
We want to see the next Government build on this confidence momentum and create conditions which promote further growth and rebalance the economy. It is important that a new Government follows through measures outlined in our Business Manifesto: a small business administration, reforming business rates, being strong on late payment, encouraging local procurement and lowering the cost of doing business.
In order to strengthen the Yorkshire economy in 2015, we need to look beyond isolated investment in our cities and principal towns. We need to create thriving market towns and village centres as well. We need to provide a stable environment for small firms, with measures built for the long-term to provide the stability businesses require.
Small businesses have a huge amount to offer. They are agile and create jobs faster and in larger numbers than any other organisations. And because they are the very fabric of our communities, helping small businesses helps society.
Finally, the FSB is looking forward to the Tour de Yorkshire showcasing more of Yorkshire’s towns and villages. We want more small businesses to benefit from this great sporting event – not just firms in the tourism and leisure sector, but also independent retailers, manufacturers and other producers.
We hope the event will be truly ‘Made in Yorkshire’, which is why we’re calling on the organisers and local authorities to give local firms and producers priority for stall pitches and contracts.