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North-south divide reported in small business confidence

PUBLISHED: 09:22 18 January 2016 | UPDATED: 09:22 18 January 2016

Anna Soubry. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Anna Soubry. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

PA

A growing North-South divide is emerging in confidence among small businesses, a new study has shown.

A survey of more than 3,000 firms suggested that those in the North East, Scotland and Wales risked being “left behind” in terms of job creation, increasing revenues and improved productivity.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said smaller companies in the North East, Yorkshire, Wales and Scotland have reported a fall in confidence in the past year.

Chairman John Allan said: “A clear divide in confidence is now emerging across different parts of the UK, with businesses in the south, and in sectors like technology and professional services feeling more positive about 2016.

“The recent flooding is likely to further weigh on business confidence in the north.”

Issues of concern for smaller firms include the new national living wage from April and the rollout of pensions auto enrolment, said the FSB.

Anna Soubry, Minister for Small Business, said: “The UK’s small businesses remain confident, continue to create jobs and increase productivity, benefiting from our strong, growing economy.

“But it was a tough end to the year for many communities across the north of England and Scotland as they suffered from unprecedented flooding.

“”I saw for myself how resilient small businesses can be when I visited Cumbria and Lancashire in the wake of the December storms, and I want them to know that this Government will continue to back them.

“We are creating a Small Business Commissioner specifically to deal with late payment, we are improving access to money and making sure business gets good access to superfast broadband and modern telecoms.”

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