28/09/2004

Small business sector 'confident but concerned'

A new report has revealed that over half of Northern Ireland's small businesses have been victims of crime during the past year.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) 'Lifting the Barriers to Growth' Biennial Membership Survey 2004 examined issues and problems relating to small business growth in the province.

Wilfred Mitchell, FSB Policy Chairman said the survey gave a snapshot of a confident small business sector, but also showed problems such as high insurance, crime and banking which are still a major headache for many business owners.

“One disturbing statistic shows many small business owners still believe that reporting a crime does not achieve anything (36%) and 26% said they had a lack of confidence in the police to find criminals," Mr Mitchell said.

“There are also a number of areas where government action is needed to ensure that our small business sector can realise its ambitions to grow, particularly with regards to the complexity and rate of change of legislation."

Other key points raised in the survey included:
  • Small businesses are ambitious for business growth with 57% reporting a two-year objective of moderate growth with 9% aiming for rapid growth.
  • More young people involved in business with 18% aged below 34.
  • More women becoming business owners - 12% women are business owners compared to 8% in 2002.
  • Around 75% of businesses are connected to the internet in NI.


'Lifting the Barriers to Growth' report 2004 examines issues relating to small business growth, employment, finance, business advisory services, legislation and issues relating to bank switching, the National Minimum Wage, new employment directives, environmental compliance and business related crime.

(MB)

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