In the days of internet-based working, long commutes and far flung distribution deals across the world, small businesses in the UK are feeling less responsible for their local communities than ever before, according to new figures.
The NatWest/SERTeam Quarterly Survey of Small Businesses revealed a fifth of businesses admit to concentrating further afield than their local community. Seventy per cent of smaller companies, in particular one person bands, feel less part of their local community than their larger counterparts.
Just under a half of firms with 20 or more employees, 38 per cent of wholesalers and 29 per cent of transport and travel firms are much more likely to focus their efforts further afield.
However, 90 per cent of hotels and restaurants - who deal directly with local consumers - tend to feel closer.
Paying local charges, such as Council Tax, was cited as the main reason why firms do feel involved in the community. However over half also create employment for local residents and 41 per cent support local charities and community events.
Although social responsibility is high on the agenda of the UK's large corporate businesses, more than one quarter of small firms felt that it was not an issue that was relevant to their business. Only 16 per cent thought smaller companies needed to be more socially responsible.
Government regulations and the paperwork that they create remain the number one issue for small businesses. In the last quarter, the percentage of small businesses reporting that the impact of Government regulations was their top problem, rose from 13 per cent to 20 per cent. It has now been the top ranked problem for over a year.
Pete Ferns, director of Nat-West Business Banking, said: "It seems that the stereotypical small business operating in the local community for the local community, is no more.
"Entrepreneurs look further afield for business and the internet has opened up a world of opportunity for them to operate across the globe.
"It is clear that whilst many businesses feel that they are socially responsible already, a large number do not think that issues in the local community are of relevance to them."