As 74 per cent of businesses are planning for growth over the next 12 months it is vital that business owners keep abreast of prospective tax and regulation, says Rebecca Combes, head of business tax at the Southampton office of Smith & Williamson, which commissioned the Enterprise Index, a survey of business owners.
‘A complex and uncertain tax system adds a challenge to ‘scale-up’ businesses. I don’t think tax is at the forefront of people’s mind when growing their business, however, it can present frustrating obstacles and hurdles and may cause some loss of momentum on the growth curve of a business,’ she adds.
The closure of the UK government’s Business Growth Service (BGS) which supported small businesses seeking to grow has made for difficulties, Smith & Williamson says.
The planned regional growth hubs to replace the BGS have not been widely welcomed by respondents, with 68 per cent believing the growth hubs would not sufficiently replace the support given by BGS.
Additionally, business owners are becoming increasingly worried about the lack of skilled staff available; less than half of respondents believe there are sufficient people and skills to fill vacant positions.
In particular, some 66 per cent of respondents believe the lack of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills among students is hindering the scaling-up of British businesses.
‘Growth is also being prohibited by the uncertain economic future with staff not wanting to move for fear of being last in first out if there is another downturn, making it harder to access good staff,’ adds Combes.
The Enterprise Index, which measures the views and confidence of owner-managers and entrepreneurs in the UK, decreased four points to 111.4, its lowest point for 12 months.
Brexit worries and concerns over the state of the UK and global economy appear to be the primary cause as expectations for growth fell by 9 per cent.