FSB: 2015 could be positive for small firms

Tuesday 30 December 2014

It seems that limited companies, sole traders and other people thinking of setting up a business could see a good year ahead.

In the New Year message from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), national chairman John Allan said that "there has never been such a strong opportunity to make a positive impact on the outlook for small firms."

Mr Allan looked back on the achievements of 2014, with the number of small businesses in the UK breaking the five million mark for the first time. Indeed, this figure fits from results from the Office for National Statistics, which found that the number of self employed people in the country is the highest since the office's records began. Mr Allan also noted that a lot of small businesses had finally been able to take on their first employees or had been able to grow and innovate across the country.

With the economic recovery leading to improvements in employment levels, Mr Allan said, there has been a disproportionate responsibility on small businesses to create new jobs.

In terms of output, it was noted that productivity was seeing positive growth in 2014 for the first time since 2010. What's more, the number of businesses able to export has risen, as have wages in a variety of sectors, such as agriculture, construction and personal services.

However, it was also noted that there have been some growing problems among small businesses. For example, late payment has continued to be an issue for small firms. In fact, FSB noted that the amount owed to small businesses in late payment has grown for £18.6 billion in 2010 to £46.1 billion at present.

Indeed, groups such as the FSB and the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) have long been campaigning for more action from the government to tackle late payment.

The government has responded to the issue with the set up of the Prompt Payment Code and discussion among businesses and groups on how to strengthen this. There have also been talks about taking a harder line on the issue of late payment as part of the Small Business Employment and Enterprise bill, which is currently going through Parliament.

Aside from late payment, there have been other issues troubling businesses too. For example, FSB noted the issue of economic inequality across regions. Also, when it comes to exports, it was wary of predictions that the Eurozone will not perform too well in 2015.

Of course, the upcoming general election is expected to make a difference to small businesses.

Mr Allan said: "The coming General Election will be a pivotal point for small business owners. What small businesses will be looking to the political parties to do is put in place the long-term foundations for sustained, balanced growth. It will not be a question of big vs small, but one of making sure all businesses have the environment they need to succeed – what we call big via small."

By Victoria McDonnell

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