Local government business support ‘getting worse’, study reveals

Some 70 per cent of business owners say that local government support is not good enough.

This is according to a new survey from Company Check, which found that the number of firms unhappy with the level of support on offer has grown by 10 per cent in a year.

Economic and political concerns

The economy remains the single biggest concern for most businesses over the next 12 months, although the businesses surveyed may have had a better 2016 than expected, with just 14 per cent saying the economy was their biggest challenge over the period. Almost three quarters said that they expected their business to grow during the coming year, up from 63 per cent last year.

Meanwhile, political factors are the biggest worry for nearly a third – an increase of 90 per cent.

Kate Deverill, the author of the report, said: “Few would have predicted the political changes we’ve seen during 2016, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that political uncertainty is top of the list for many.

“It’s to be expected that the economy is the biggest concern, but what is striking is the growing dissatisfaction with local authorities when it comes to supporting and nurturing business growth.”

Mixed response to Autumn Statement

The news follows a mixed response to November’s Autumn Statement, the first for Chancellor Philip Hammond. Amongst the schemes included in the speech were investment in infrastructure and exports.

But Hammond’s announcement didn’t go for enough for some business leaders, with the Forum of Private Business saying: “It is really disappointing that he has opted for caution over stimulus.”

The survey also comes in the wake of new figures suggesting that key sectors recorded strong growth through the end of 2016. Services, which account for 80 per cent of the total economy, expanded in December at their fastest rate since July 2015.

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