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Forum of Private Business

Forum comments on this year’s highs and lows and the outlook for 2016

23 December 2015 11:15


Commenting on the highs and lows for small businesses in 2015, Ian Cass, Managing Director at the Forum of Private Business, said:

“On the positive side, the UK economy has continued to grow at levels above those of most of our international competitors and growth is likely to continue in 2016. Businesses also have some certainty after the General Election in May. Our members have been able to exploit new technology to offer new services to their customers and make payment more convenient and provide aftersales support that exceeds the distance selling act. Research shows that the economic climate is less of an issue than at any time since 2008 and that finance is less restrictive as businesses are looking to grow without the support of the high street banks.”

“On the downside, there are still major structural issues in the UK economy and a number of areas where business and consumer confidence remains fragile. Skills and productivity have been highlighted as particularly problematic with not enough support being provided to firms with less than 10 employees to grow further. In this context it is disappointing that the government has closed down the Business Growth Development Scheme and is not reducing regulation on smaller firms. The perception of members is that this is a government focussed on big business whose actions to date have been to the detriment of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Red tape is now the biggest single issue for our members and we feel that this is having a huge impact on their ability to develop. Businesses should be protecting themselves against cyber-crime and natural disasters rather than tax investigations or employment tribunals.”

On 2016:

“2016 will be a difficult year for many businesses particularly those who are reliant on labour to make sure that they offer a good service. The living wage will make it very hard for a large number of businesses in labour intensive industries to survive without government support in the form of deregulation in addition to the remedial measures mentioned in the Autumn Statement.

“The continued increase of tax administration is a real concern for our members as the majority are dependent on third parties as it is. We hope that this does not mean greater anxiety and greater revenue gathering from micro and small employers who are already over-taxed.

“There is also more political uncertainty in the form of elections in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as the referendum on the EU. However we see 2016 as a year of opportunities for our members as smaller firms are more likely to be able to see react positively to changes. The question is whether overbearing regulations will allow them to do so.”


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