Scottish business owners are happier with the performance of their local government than any other region in the UK, according to a new Business Census report.
The survey of 1,000 businesses, carried out by the financial data website Company Check (https://companycheck.co.uk/), found that almost half (45%) of those in Scotland said they were satisfied that their local authority was doing a good job, higher than anywhere else.
It also revealed that almost a third of firms (32%) expect the economy to pose the biggest risk to their company during 2016.
BfS CEO Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp welcomed the report, but said that more was still required to be done to support businesses.
“With figures showing that many companies see the economy as the biggest risk they will face this year, there is a real need for bold, ambitious thinking and action on how best to nurture and support SMEs.
“SMEs are the lifeblood of our economy and we need to make it easier for them to do business, not force anti-entrepreneurial red tape on them. For example, the government’s plans to enforce the submission of four tax returns a year will incur unnecessary cost and waste time.
“We surveyed our members and 92% think it will cost them more or significantly more, and believe they already have enough challenges to deal with. The majority are concerned about increased stress, fears that the accountancy fees will be increased, and that they will be constantly preparing for the next tax return.”
The report also revealed concerns over political uncertainty have taken priority for many, with a 40% rise in the number declaring this as their main concern; up from 11 to 16%.
Alastair Campbell, founder of Company Check and author of the report, said: “The Business Census is intended to provide a snapshot of the state of UK businesses right now. The usual growth figures we read about can only tell us so much, so we asked business leaders to give us their insight into how their business fared last year and offer their forecasts for the year ahead, good or bad.”
“It’s unsurprising that economic and political uncertainties are on the rise, with the impending EU referendum, growing security concerns and possible interest rate rises all playing a part. Results like this highlight the strength of feeling among business owners looking for decisive leadership from our politicians to improve business confidence.”
Commenting on the report, Neil Austin, former Global Head of Markets at KPMG, said: “Economic statistics and forecasts are valuable but it is always important to supplement them with the views of businesses, particularly when looking to establish what the future holds for the economy. The latest survey by Company Check highlights some very interesting changes in what businesses see as the major challenges for 2016 compared with 2015.”
The Business Census questioned people working across the economy, with participants taken from professional services (24%), manufacturing (15%), construction (14%), retail (13%), finance (10%), food and drink (5%) and healthcare (2%).
Almost three quarters (73%) expect their business to grow this year, with that growth expected to most likely come from marketing (38%), followed by production (34%), finance (19%) and HR (7%).
Despite their fears, two thirds (67%) said they were either quite or very optimistic about the outlook for the UK economy in 2016, compared to 21% who were not.