Belfast Telegraph

One in seven small UK firms could close or downsize, report claims

By John Mulgrew

A record number of small businesses are planning to shut or downsize at the start of 2018, it's been claimed.

According to a fresh survey from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), firms are beginning the new year with increased pessimism as "surging operating costs, weak domestic growth and flagging consumer demand hamper profits".

Around one in seven (14%) of UK businesses are planning to downsize, close or sell their companies, over the coming three months.

Three-quarters of firms reported a rise in operating costs compared to this time last year.

"As we progress to stage two of Brexit talks, negotiations with the EU27 are set to continue dominating the political agenda," FSB NI policy chairman Wilfred Mitchell said.

"While the swift agreement of a transitional arrangement and an ambitious free trade agreement with the EU are absolutely critical, it is spiralling costs, weak growth and flagging consumer demand at home that are front of mind for small firms day to day.

"It's troubling to see a record number of entrepreneurs seeking an exit as these challenges prove too much for many."

And he said a "continued absence of a devolved Executive means that strategic decisions required to improve the business environment are not being taken, including in areas such as business rates and infrastructure".

"Businesses seek the certainty provided by political stability, and with Brexit negotiations about to reach a crucial phase it is disappointing that we do not have an Executive to feed into the process," he added.

Belfast Telegraph

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