Scots small firms ‘punching above weight’ in community contributions

A majority of small businesses in Scotland make a contribution to their communities or give to charity, according to a new report.

In a survey examining the impact of small businesses, 82% of 267 respondents in Scotland indicated that they had contributed to local causes in the last three years.

The study, conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in November last year, suggested that the figure is higher than in the rest of the UK, where 80% of 1,876 respondents said they had made a contribution.

Their findings also highlighted that a third of Scottish businesses (33%) had contributed enterprise skills to their local community – with one example cited in the report as a local restaurant giving free cookery classes to low income families.

Andrew McRae, FSB Scotland, said: “Anyone with their finger on the pulse of their community knows that smaller businesses play a pivotal role. In our new research, we try to measure this contribution and we find that local firms are punching well above their weight.

“This new report underlines why it is important that policy-makers give smaller firms the best chance of success. That’s why we’ve made the case for rates help for the smallest Scottish operators and for them to get a fair share of public contracts.”

The FSB has called on the UK Government to deliver on a manifesto promise for a one-year National Insurance Contributions (NICs) holiday for firms that employ individuals from disadvantaged groups.

“Our research shows that smaller firms already take on huge numbers of people that face labour market challenges. We’re making the case for a little extra help so that they can achieve even more,” Mr McRae added.

In the UK, the report indicates that smaller employers are more likely to hire those from harder to reach groups than big corporations.

The majority (78%) employ an older worker, a third (34%) have a member of staff with low levels of educational attainment, and a similar share (30%) employ at least one person with a known disability or mental health condition.

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “Those who are disadvantaged are already more likely to find work with a small firm than a big corporation.

“Back in 2017, the Conservatives promised that if elected they would introduce a one-year NICs holiday for firms that take on those with a disability, mental health condition or who have been out of work for some time.

“We’ve been left asking: when will this promise be delivered? Two years later, it should be prioritised.

“We look forward to the Chancellor outlining exactly how the commitment will be taken forward in the upcoming Spring Statement.

“With the labour market tightening, EU migration down and skills shortages starting to bite, it’s more vital than ever that this incentive is made available.”

Read Full Story