Confidence rising for Yorkshire SMEs, although doubts remain over economy

Community Shop manager Sarah Dunwell at the first community supermarket in Goldthorpe, South Yorkshire. Picture: Ross Parry Agency.

Community Shop manager Sarah Dunwell at the first community supermarket in Goldthorpe, South Yorkshire. Picture: Ross Parry Agency.

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Business risk is at its lowest level in four years, a survey claims, despite more than half of Britain’s small businesses voicing concerns over the current economic climate.

The Zurich SME Risk Index is now sitting at 36.72 points, indicating the lowest level of risk to the UK’s small businesses since the beginning of the SME Risk Index in Q3 2012.

The figure represents a decrease of nine per cent in the last 6 months.

However, figures seen by The Yorkshire Post show that more than a quarter of SMEs in Yorkshire (29 per cent) feels that their business faces more risk now than in the last financial quarter; and a third (33 per cent) feel that their business faces more risk now than 12 months ago.

Respectively, this compares with a third and less than half on a national level.

The results from the survey of more than 1,000 SME owners and decision makers come despite the fact that almost half (45 per cent) believe their business faces more risk now than compared with 12 months ago. Yet, the number of businesses that have considered closing down are at their lowest ever level since the inception of the SME Risk Index (7 per cent).

Workforce challenges and red tape, which were seen as the most concerning issues just six months ago, were the greatest fallers among areas of business risk.

The general reduction in business risk has seen a positive knock-on effect throughout a number of significant business operations.

Anne Griffiths, Head of SME Proposition at Zurich, said: “Small business has been through the mill over the past four years, due to a changeable business environment of fluctuating political and economic concern. There appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for small businesses, though. Workforce challenges and concerns over business risk are at a four year low and businesses are growing at twice the rate they are shrinking in the UK.”

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