One in four small businesses fear closure

Small business owners say survival is their key priority over next six months as energy prices rocket and 80% have difficulty recruiting staff

More than a quarter (27 per cent) of small business owners fear their businesses may close in the future, while two in five (42 per cent) say avoiding closure is their priority over the next six months.

Almost a third (31 per cent) of small business owner-directors worry that their businesses won’t be able to keep up with outgoings, while over a quarter (26 per cent) are using less electricity to save on bills.

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The research, conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Meta, polled over 1,000 British small business decision makers of companies with fewer than 50 employees.

Steve Hatch, VP Northern Europe, Meta, said, “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the UK economy and right now they face the challenge of a lifetime just to keep the lights on.”

Recruitment problems

Meanwhile, nearly 80 per cent of businesses are having problems recruiting staff with manufacturing and hospitality most badly hit.

As a result, more than half of businesses (56 per cent) say they are operating below full capacity, with the problem most widespread in hospitality (71 per cent).

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Sixty-two per cent of businesses are trying to recruit staff, according to the British Chambers of Commerce latest quarterly recruitment outlook. The figure is largely unchanged from the spring, before spiralling borrowing costs and political uncertainty rattled confidence among consumers and businesses.

Alex Veitch, director of policy and public affairs at the BCC, said: “Unless we find a solution to the longstanding recruitment difficulties facing UK businesses then any plans to boost economic growth are doomed to failure. We have to fix the people problem before we can make headway on the productivity issue.”

The unemployment rate in the UK is 3.5 per cent, its lowest level since 1974, but at 1.25 million, the number of vacancies is close to a record high.

British Chambers of Commerce surveyed more than 5,100 businesses for the survey, 92 per cent of which were small businesses.

Further reading

Energy Bill Relief Scheme – how it works

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...

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