New research shows small business owners in the West Midlands are the country’s most pessimistic about their region’s prospects during the recession.
Just 15 per cent believe the West Midlands is better placed than the rest of the UK to withstand the downturn, compared to 56 per cent in the South East, 44 per cent in the South West, and 32 per cent in the North East and East Midlands.
A total of 31 per cent of small business owners surveyed in the West Midlands have had to make cuts to their workforce in the last six months, with a further 17 per cent admitting they will be forced to make further job cuts to balance their books.
The survey, carried out by Clifton Asset Management, also revealed that just 60 per cent of the region’s small business owners are aware of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG), the Government’s flagship scheme to help them through recession – again the lowest figure for any UK region.
And all this negativity has severely dented the region’s small business owners’ retirement plans, with a full 80 per cent reporting that they felt retirement was further away now than it was a year ago, with a further 22 per cent saying they had put any thoughts of retiring on hold permanently.
“While many commentators have spent the last quarter desperately trying to talk up the economy our research with the people at the sharp end, UK small business owners, paints a very different picture,” said Anthony Carty, a director at CAM.
“Small businesses are in the eye of the storm right now and over half in the West Midlands believe the recovery is going to be long and slow. This chimes with Government forecasts that we could be into 2011 before the recovery is properly under way, meaning retirement in the current climate remains a pipe dream for the majority of our respondents in the region.”
On the issue of the Government’s EFG, he said: “It is a sorry state of affairs when awareness of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee in the West Midlands has fallen from 72 per cent in the last survey to the current 60 per cent, and all at a time when the region’s economic situation has clearly worsened.