Lancashire’s small business group says Tory leadership hopefuls must back enterprise as confidence plunge

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The Lancashire-based Federation of Small Businesses is calling on all Tory party leader candidates to prove that they are pro-business.

The organisation, which has its HQ near Blackpool Airport, said that the candidates for the Conservative leadership and the Prime Ministerial position must show pro-enterprise credentials because small business confidence is nosediving.

It warned that surging operating costs, a high tax burden and struggles to fill vacancies are threatening the futures of hundreds of thousands of small firms and sole traders across the UK.

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In its latest members’ survey, its said the confidence measure tumbled to -24.7, down more than 40 points on the same quarter last year (+18.6).

Martin McTague FSB National ChairmanMartin McTague FSB National Chairman
Martin McTague FSB National Chairman

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The vast majority of businesses (77 per cent) do not expect their performance to improve over the coming quarter. More than a third (38 per cent) expect it to worsen.

Amid myriad challenges, one in seven (15 per cent) respondents said they plan to consolidate, close or sell their firms over the coming year.

FSB National Chair Martin McTague said: “The cost of doing business crisis has worsened to the point where confidence is now lower than during last year’s massively disrupted festive trading season.

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“Firms are trying to absorb additional cost pressures but can only do so much before they’re forced to raise prices.

“The small business community reduced in size to the tune of hundreds of thousands over lockdowns. Unless policymakers act fast, history is set to repeat itself.

“We’re looking to prime ministerial candidates for unequivocally pro-business, pro-growth commitments. There is still time to act, but time is of the essence.”