World Economy

Scottish Small Businesses Lose Confidence

Scottish Small Businesses Lose ConfidenceScottish Small Businesses Lose Confidence

Confidence among Scotland’s small businesses has fallen in the past three months, while it has soared to a record high in the rest of the UK.

“We need to understand if this fall is a one-off blip or marks the start of a trend,” said Andy Willox, Scottish policy convener for the Federation of Small Businesses, GulfNews reported.

Colin Borland, the FSB’s head of external affairs in Scotland, said that research conducted by the lobby group and University of Edinburgh suggested that a majority of Scotland’s small businesses were worried about the impact of a “Yes” vote in the independence referendum. “Small businesses do see some potential advantages in independence,” he said. “That’s the nature of our members — they’ll look for the positives whatever happens. But if there is a Yes vote, more people highlight risks than opportunities.”

The research found that two-thirds of almost 1,800 small Scottish companies surveyed in April and May believed that independence would affect the day-to-day running of their business. Almost a fifth said the referendum had already influenced a business decision over the previous year.

“The phones have gone quiet,” said Alan Gemmill, who is based in Perth and manages property as well as a financial advisory firm. “We have noticed in the last few weeks we’ve been trying to sell properties that we rent out there is no interest at all.”

Alastair Macmillan, whose family-owned company west of Glasgow manufactures hydraulic pumps, mainly for export, said he had delayed investment over the past year because of the referendum.

Sir Mike Rake, president of the CBI, Britain’s leading business lobby, who also chairs BT Group, said that while he believed that the “overwhelming majority” of businesses in Scotland wanted a No vote, for some small and medium-sized enterprises the decision was more difficult. “I’m sure there are people in Scotland who’d like to vote Yes with their heart and No with their head,” he said.

Borland of the FSB said that small businesses had very mixed views on the independence debate. “The way small businesses take decisions is very different from the way bigger corporates do: it’s round the kitchen table rather than around the board table,” he said.