The latest quarterly confidence report from the Federation of Small Businesses shows that small business confidence in Scotland has risen to match the UK average. The organisation’s Voice of Small Business Index shows confidence rising in the first quarter of 2014 to its highest level since the data series began at the start of 2010. The Scottish confidence index measures +36 points this quarter, up 15 points since the last measurement, and is now slightly higher than the UK average of +35.7 points.
Further, a net balance of 18 per cent of Scottish small firms expect profits to rise this quarter with a 31 per cent balance expecting a turnover boost over the same period. More than half (52%) of all Scottish small firms now plan to grow over the next year with more than a quarter (27.6%) planning to increase capital investment. Around one in seven (12.9%) small businesses now report that credit availability is good or very good, compared to around one in 15 (6.6%) who said the same in the first quarter of 2013.
In the next three months, a balance of 7 per cent of Scottish small businesses plan to increase staff numbers. However, more than a quarter of Scottish businesses (27% this quarter) continue to cite access to skilled staff as a significant barrier to their growth.
In the view of the FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, Andy Willox, “It is great news that Scottish small businesses are now as bullish as their counterparts elsewhere in the UK. We need to turn this vigour into growth and jobs – and we must see this trend continue for the remainder of the year.
“As trading conditions improve, it is vital that businesses are ready to cope with rising demand. Firms with a full order book for the first time in years may need help with working capital and growing businesses will need to find the right skilled staff. To this end, we need to see governments in London and Edinburgh continue to back our members and the wider small business community. Further, Scottish local councils should not forget the critical role they play in their local economies – we need all of our decision-makers looking at new ways to back local growth and jobs.”