“Rural areas hold enormous potential for businesses to thrive and contribute to their local communities and the larger economy.” [Federation of Small Businesses]
The FSB has just produced a report on what small businesses in rural areas can offer: Rural areas hold enormous potential for businesses to thrive and contribute to their local communities and the larger economy. To do this, these businesses require sustained support to weather the challenges and investment in essential infrastructure. By nurturing and empowering rural small firms, we can unlock their full potential to drive growth and prosperity for generations ahead. The Growth Belt | FSB, The Federation of Small Businesses
As reported by the Rural Services Network: FSB’s latest Growth Belt report highlights the way rural businesses are struggling against a backdrop of mounting energy costs, poor transport links, and unreliable broadband. Small firms in rural areas face a unique set of challenges that will continue to stunt their growth, unless policymakers step in to make serious change, a new Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) report shows. Rural small firms present new ideas to become ‘economic growth-belt’ against backdrop of inequalities – Rural Services Network
Recommendations to address the ‘rural deficit’ include:
- The Government should update the Universal Service Obligation (USO) minimum requirements for both upload and download speeds.
- The basic VAT taxable turnover threshold should be raised from £85,000 to £100,000 to encourage growth rather than literally discouraging it, amid anecdotal evidence of small firms scaling back activity to avoid the risk of crossing the VAT cliff-edge. This frozen threshold has remained the same since 2017, despite soaring inflation.
- Take more hard-working, potentially growth-creating small firms out of Business Rates by increasing England’s Small Business Rate Relief threshold to £25,000 from the current £12,000.
- UK Governments must deliver the necessary charging points for electric vehicles by 2030 in rural parts of the UK.
- Councils in England should appoint Local Business Champions – either elected members or senior management – to take clear responsibility and accountability for business engagement and funding applications. This is particularly crucial as Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are becoming more urban-focussed in areas where there is an elected mayor, and funding risks are on the horizon.