Startup Advice

The north-south divide in small business 'confidence'

Jack Stratten

Despite start-up growth across the UK, confidence isn't universally high

A recent survey by the Federation for Small Businesses (FSB) suggests that businesses in the North of Britain have far less confidence than businesses in the South.

Confidence was particularly low in the North East, Yorkshire and Scotland. This comes at a time when business growth in the UK as a whole is expected to accelerate, which will only exacerbate the gap.

In Scotland, small business confidence is at a ‘three-year low’, which experts are attributing to wider economic problems north of the border. These problems are primarily driven by falling oil prices – which is often a catalyst for crises in confidence.

Flooding and unemployment has damaged expectations

Flooding in December 2015 had a severe impact on businesses in the North West, so it’s hardly surprising that confidence is relatively low in that region.

Meanwhile, unemployment in the North East is significantly higher than the UK average, which is contributing to negative attitudes over business conditions.

Growth in Birmingham paints a more positive picture

There are still plenty of positives for the UK’s small business outlook.

2015 was another record year for small business creation, with more than 600,000 new ventures registered. And although a large majority were launched in London, there are some encouraging signs for the rest of the UK.

Birmingham led the way with more than 14,000 new businesses, and Manchester and Leeds also posted encouraging statistics. The consensus is that many entrepreneurs are waking up to the opportunity of reduced overheads in cities like Birmingham, and starting to make use of their impressive resources.

So, while confidence in parts of the UK is low, the outlook overall is far more positive.