Support call for small firms

The government’s flagship levelling-up agenda will fall short unless more is done to bolster business support for smaller firms, according to a new report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

It says that SMEs will be crucial if levelling-up is to happen, describing them as “crucial to balancing-up productivity, innovation, jobs and opportunities across towns and rural areas as well as cities”

However, significant gaps in business support for small firms and the self-employed have been exposed in FSB’s new ‘Open for Business’ report.

It sheds light on how business support advice was used by small firms during the pandemic, drawing lessons from how while it supported some, others were left with little assistance.

The report reveals that 84 per cent of small firms received some sort of business support advice during the pandemic

And 45 per cent of small firms say the advice they received helped their business survive the pandemic

But most sole traders found that business support advice targeted at them was not helpful, according to the report

FSB national vice chair Martin McTague said: “We’ve seen huge numbers of small firms, almost half in fact, state that their business is still standing today thanks in part to the economic advice they managed to access. And while this is excellent news, it means that almost half didn’t have the same levels of success.

“For too many, knowing where to look, who to speak to and what to do leads to a dead end and that needs to change. Every day, small firms ask themselves how can I manage my debt? How can we achieve Net Zero without breaking the bank? Or how can I attract more staff? It’s these sorts of questions where the right advice, can make huge differences.

“Our findings show that existing business support advice already helps small firms when it comes to taxation and regulation, but as our post-EU journey continues and while we continue to weather the economic Covid-19 storm, there is plenty more government could be doing to help make things easier.”

He added: “Government needs to simplify and streamline how and where small firms can access critical business support advice, building on what currently works.

“It should also ensure that the level of funding for business support via UK Shared Prosperity Fund matches, or exceeds, those funds previously received under European Structural and Investment funding.”

• The WNJ team is on hand to offer small businesses and sole traders help and advice. To discuss your needs please call 01772 43000. We are here to help