Issue 54 for December 2021 (issued December 3 2021)
Continuing our work to support SMEs on NetZero journey
The green and sustainability agenda remains a key part of our current FSB work and we hope to work with stakeholders even more in 2022 to keep the momentum for business activity we saw in the run up to Cop26 maintained. We are currently working alongside many of our councils and other stakeholders to look at how we can increase interest and participation among SMEs in the sustainability arena and recent work has included supporting plans by councils in Bristol and Bath to add achievable NetZero goals to procurement processes, supporting the launch of the Forest of Dean Business Climate Charter and looking to support the ongoing work on supporting small businesses on their journey by Business in the Community. We are very conscious, however, that there are still many, many SMEs that are struggling to get to grips with what is involved and how they can make a difference in an affordable way while facing so many other pressures, so we have published a small, practical downloadable guide which you are welcome to share with your business contacts about how businesses can get involved – it is available to download at FSB Simple Sustainability Guide or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff shortages affecting many SMEs
The FSB was pleased to attend an excellent roundtable meeting in Bristol this week organised by the South West TUC and the Business West Initiative to address the current staff shortage issues faced by businesses of all sizes. In many ways this jobs crisis has come as a bit of a surprise – the combined effect of post Brexit employee movement and the end of furlough had saw many predict high levels of unemployment but this has yet to materialise and many firms are now desperate to get back to full staffing size. We made the point at the roundtable event that although we have, for many years, talked about a general ‘skills shortage’ – i.e. the lack of suitably qualified people chasing jobs with very specific requirements – that has now broadened out to be a full-on all round staff shortage. There are vacancies and gaps at every level in the jobs market and SMEs can often also feel adversely affected in the battle to recruit the available staff. Retail, hospitality, the care sector and the HGV industry have all expressed major concerns on the issue and with Gloucestershire alone reporting more than 40,000 job vacancies and no immediate solutions in sight it is clear this is an issue the FSB and others will be working on more as we enter the New Year.
Online networking is here to stay
Since the whole Covid pandemic began, we have found that our regular online networking meetings have been hugely popular among our members (and non-members) as a way of people being able to stay connected with one another. This has been good not only for their businesses but also for their own mental health and sense of community. As such, we will continue to have meetings online in 2022 but hope to add occasional face to face session as well when conditions allow. To conclude our 2021 programme we have three final, varied networking meetings – all of which are open to all our stakeholders and all of your contacts to join. Firstly we are staging our next Women in Business event for this area and neighbouring ones on Wednesday 8 December (to join register here) and then Friday 10th we have a regional event for Bristol, Gloucestershire, Bath and South Gloucestershire (you can book for that at this link). Finally, to end our 2021 FSB Virtual Networking on a high we are hosting a national event on Wednesday 15 December where Jackie Weaver will be on hand to keep everyone in order. Remarkably, we already have nearly 700 people signed up for this one-off special and if you want to share this invite to your contacts we would love to see them join us by visiting here. All our events are free, inclusive and supportive and are a great way of meeting SMEs from every sector.
FSB backs latest, limited Covid restrictions
The FSB understands and supports the recent announcements about the wearing of facemasks in shops and other settings given the uncertain public health climate and we are relieved that, at the most important time for our independent retailers, they can maintain trading. Small businesses in the retail sector have faced huge pressures in 2021 after a stuttering summer start, staff shortages, supply chain issues and rising inflation and staying open for the festive season is vital for long term survival. Our members will continue to respectfully encourage the use of face coverings in shops being but we feel there should be clear reference in the regulations that local law enforcement is responsible in case anyone refuses to comply in a shop, to avoid conflict and danger to the shop owner and staff. We have produced some advice for shopkeepers on face coverings – please feel free to share with contacts if it helps them. It is available at FSB face coverings advice.
Please encourage businesses to join our awards scheme
Our FSB 2022 Small Business Awards for both members and non-members across the South West and the UK as a whole are now well under way so we would be grateful if you would urge your business contacts to get involved in what looks set to become the UK’s biggest small business awards scheme. The Gloucestershire, Bristol, Bath and South Gloucestershire area has produced a number of great winners in the past and we hope more businesses from this patch will come forward to try and win both local and possibly national FSB recognition in 2022. For the full entry criteria, category selection and how to apply please go to fsbawards.co.uk. If you feel you would like to promote your company to hundreds of South West SMEs by becoming a category sponsor in our 2022 awards we have a small amount of categories left needing a sponsor – just drop an email to Sam Holliday and I will be pleased to send you a sponsor pack. We are also delighted to announce that one of Gloucestershire’s biggest and best businesses – Renishaw – has stepped in to sponsor our Business and Product Innovation category. A big thank you to them and all our sponsors.
Can I take this (very early!) opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year?
It has been, once again, a testing 12 months for everyone connected with business but hopefully the work we have all done individually and collectively will have made some difference and so can I thank you all for your support for local businesses and the FSB during this time. Here’s hoping for a great 2022 for us all…
FSB Development Manager
(Gloucestershire, Bristol, Bath & South Glos)
T 0125 346 069 / 07917 628915
Follow FSB Gloucestershire, Bristol and Bath HERE