Scottish businesses are in great health according to the data from our 2016 Business Census, with more firms reportedly happier and healthier than anywhere else in the UK.
Our survey of 1,000 business leaders, plus subsequent research from a sample of almost 9,000 Scottish firms, showed that businesses were in strong financial health and were more optimistic about the year ahead compared to other places.
For those companies operating north of the border, the results are encouraging. 45% of the Scottish businesses surveyed as part of the Business Census said they were happy with the level of support provided by their local government, responding “yes” when asked, “Does your local government do a good job of supporting business growth?”
This was the greatest level of satisfaction reported across all UK regions, and Scottish businesses are almost twice as happy with their local government as respondents from Wales and Yorkshire.
Unsurprisingly, news of this positive sentiment is paired with strong business growth. When we took a sample of 8,754 Scottish businesses to further gauge the health of the economy in this region, our analysts found that 62% of firms grew in turnover over the last three full years of submitted accounts (2012-2014 inclusive), compared to 38% that didn’t. Of those that did grow, three quarters (3351) grew by more than 10%.
“As a Scotsman myself, I find the insight revealed by the Business Census to be very encouraging: the satisfaction with local government support reported by Scottish businesses is mirrored by impressive rates of growth, suggesting a positive correlation between these two factors.”
Alastair Campbell, founder of Company Check and author of the report
However, not everything to come out of the report was so positive. Respondents voiced concern over the impact of politics and the economy on their business in 2015, and predicted a similar story for 2016, with 23% and 41%, respectively, stating that these would be the greatest challenges during the months to come.
One Scottish business owner reflected that “global challenges [are] affecting [the] home market”, and another expanded on this point, stating that the “downturn in oil industry affected business, in Aberdeen” and that “export [had been] affected by [the] Russian and Chin[ese] downturn[s].”
It’s perhaps unsurprising that economic and political uncertainties are on the rise, with the impending EU referendum, growing security concerns and possible interest rate rises all playing a part. Results like this highlight the strength of feeling among business owners looking for decisive leadership from our politicians to improve business confidence.
Finance also remains an ongoing concern for the leaders of Scottish businesses, with 9% stating that this was their greatest challenge in 2015 and the same percentage predicting this to be their toughest obstacle in 2016. One respondent commented that “big banks are useless to SME’s.”
Finally, 14% of Scottish companies surveyed believe that recruitment will be their biggest struggle in 2016 and with the National Living Wage to be increased on April 1st 2016 and the EU referendum scheduled for June, it remains to been seen to what extent these fears will become reality.