In his new year message, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry warns that UK small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) will be struggling at the start of 2017 with high cost burdens accumulated from a range of policy decisions over the past year.
Mr Cherry said it wasn’t just Brexit causing concern: "The introduction of the National Living Wage steeply increased labour costs, just as the rollout of workplace pension auto-enrolment hit smaller business. 2017 starts with a weaker medium-term economic outlook, and the prospect of inflation in the spring. This will squeeze smaller firms affected by the rising price of imports, supplies and products, but without the ability to move their HQ or workforce, or hedge their costs. Smaller firms are anchored in their local community and will need to work out how to cope with margins being squeezed even further."
The FSB also called for a crackdown on late and poor payment practice. An estimated 800,000 small businesses are set to reach their auto-enrolment staging date in 2017 while the Pensions Regulator calculates that 1.46 million small firms in total will need to set up pension schemes.
"In the UK, running a small business and being your own boss is one of the most challenging and satisfying things you can choose to do," Mr Cherry continued.
"We now have a record 5.5 million smaller businesses and the self-employed, but the rate of growth has started to slow. Our country’s prosperity in 2017 will be founded on the success of the smaller business movement. In turn, that success rests upon all of us truly creating a new entrepreneurial culture."
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