FSB reports surge in small business confidence across South West

By Nick Batten on 8 May, 2024

Small business confidence in the South West has bounced back in dramatic fashion according to the latest report by Britain’s biggest business group. 

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)’s first regional quarterly confidence report for 2024 has seen confidence levels among local members increase by over 40 percentage points to their highest level since October 2021. 

Confidence levels have surged in the region so much that the South West – which has been among the least positive areas in the UK in many recent FSB reports – is now above the UK average. 

In addition to the good news about confidence levels, nearly half of those small businesses polled in the South West said that their growth aspirations in the next 12 months are to grow ‘either rapidly or moderately’ and more SME owners say their intention is to increase staff numbers in the forthcoming quarter rather than reduce their headcount. 

There were still some concerns revealed in the report – potential future investment aspiration levels among South West SME owners are the lowest in England and 15 per cent of small businesses in the region stated that they intend to ‘contract’ in the next twelve months (to downsize, sell or close the business) – but the overall mood of the report is the most positive it has been for more than two years. 

FSB’s South West Chair Lee Nathan welcomed the report’s generally upbeat news about regional positivity. 

He said, “Our quarterly reports are really important indicators of the mood of the local small business community and for too long now we have seen disappointing figures. To see such a dramatic change for the start of 2024 therefore is a real tonic and we hope it will suggest we may just be turning some sort of corner at last.”

The FSB South West report can be downloaded at: fsb.org.uk/resources-page/south-west-small-business-index-q1-2024.html. 

The news follows a recent survey by Business West which found that South West firms are confident about their future prospects.

Pictured above: FSB’s South West Regional Chair Lee Nathan has welcomed improving business confidence in the region