January 2018 Bulletin – Federation of Small Businesses

 

Issue 9 for January 2018 (issued January 9)

 

FSB planning activity for year ahead

The FSB is currently putting together its plan of activity for our local policy activity throughout Gloucestershire and the West of England in 2018. As well as regular networking events, we will also be looking to support a number of business shows and awards events, have business seminars on issues such as apprenticeships, GDPR and procurement and have a visit to meet many of our local MPs in Parliament. We will provide updates on our local activity via this bulletin and on our Twitter feed (@FSBGlosandWoE).         

Drop in small business confidence…

Small businesses are beginning the new year with increased pessimism due to surging operating costs, weak domestic growth and flagging consumer demand, according to our latest national Small Business Index (SBI) survey released on Friday (January 5). The SBI for the last quarter of 2017 saw a fourth consecutive drop in confidence as almost a third of firms told us they expect their performance to worsen over the next three months with only a quarter expecting an improvement. This is only the second overall negative reading recorded in the last five years. For a copy of the full report please email sam.holliday@fsb.org.uk.

Looking to take advantage of Severn Toll crossing changes

The FSB will be taking part in a ‘cross-border’ summit set up by the Secretary of State for Wales, Rt Hon. Alun Cairns MP, headed the Severn Growth Summit’ on  Monday, January 22, at the Celtic Manor Resort Golf Club. It will bring together businesses, local authorities and academia to seek to maximise the opportunities for businesses and residents presented on both sides of the border by the abolition of the Severn Tolls later this year.  Anyone who would like to attend the free summit can do so via this link.

Working to help keep members connected    

Broadband connectivity remains an important issue for many of our members throughout the region and we will be actively working with partners to highlight the issue and seek solutions in the coming year. Last week we attended a very useful meeting called by Stroud District Council and David Drew MP to look at the progress of the issue in Stroud and we are also actively now helping to promote a new Government pilot scheme which can offer up to £3k towards installing gigabit broadband for businesses in the Bristol City Council and Bath and North East Somerset Council areas.

Worrying digital skills gap revealed

The FSB has sent out a warning that a digital skills gap in small firms is holding back productivity. The growing digital gap was just one of the findings in our latest report on skills and training for small businesses. FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry called for small businesses and their staff to be at the heart of a new National Retraining Scheme, announced in the Budget, to boost digital capability. You can see his blog and video on the subject and read the FSB press release here.

Thank you for reading….