North-South divide in small business confidence
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has released findings that shows a growing gap in confidence between businesses in Scotland, North East England and Wales and those in the Midlands and the South of England.
The FSB’s Small Business Index, a measure of small business confidence across the UK, shows that in the last 12 months, smaller firms in the North East, Yorkshire, Scotland and Wales have all experienced a year-on-year decline in confidence. In Wales, confidence has dropped into negative territory for the first time in two years. In Scotland, confidence levels are at their lowest levels since the start of 2013. Elsewhere confidence levels have remained stable, supported in particular by firms in technology and business/professional services.
Overall confidence across the UK remains in positive territory standing at 21.7 points which is 4.1 points higher than Q4 2014. Nearly two thirds (59%) of businesses anticipate growth relatively unchanged from the last quarter, with almost one in four firms (24%) reporting a growth in revenue in the last three months, the highest since 2010.
Smaller businesses are also leading the way on job creation with firms reporting that they have expanded their staff in the last three months, with more planning to do so this Spring.