Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland firms 'suffer bigger rise in costs than rest of UK'

By John Mulgrew

Costs for local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) rose faster than anywhere else in the UK in the past year, according to a report.

Barclays' Small Business Cost Index showed that local firms' costs climbed 3.6% in the past 12 months, compared to 3.2% across the UK as a whole.

The report claimed the increase was "directly related to increased manufacturing and construction costs".

UK-wide, businesses in the manufacturing sector saw costs rise by 5.7% - the highest reading since 2009.

Costs for UK construction sector companies climbed by 4.1% during the same period.

The survey also found that two-thirds of UK businesses would increase their prices if inflation rose further.

Stuart Brown, Barclays head of SME Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: "In this ongoing environment, with both consumers and businesses continuing to feel the squeeze, it is more important than ever for SMEs to have a plan in place to manage the impact of inflationary pressures.

"As overall UK inflation has risen, so too have the costs faced by SMEs themselves.

"While many SMEs will regrettably feel they have no alternative but to consider raising their prices, it's important they review the areas where their bottom line is most affected, buffer the inflation impact by reviewing everyday running costs and consider other areas to help drive business growth, such as exploring opportunities overseas."

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