Visit comes following new FSB research showing flagging business confidence and surging operating costs
Martin McTague, who was appointed National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses in March 2022, is visiting Liverpool to meet City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, small businesses and other key stakeholders.
Prior to becoming National Chair, Martin was National Vice Chair of Policy and Advocacy from 2021 and FSB Policy and Advocacy Chair from 2016. He will visit Liverpool tomorrow (Thursday, 21 July 2022) and is being hosted by FSB Merseyside and Cheshire Area representatives. During the day, Martin will:
- Meet with representatives of Liverpool City Region Enterprise Hub, the gateway for business start-up support in Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley, Wirral, St Helens and Halton;
- Attend an FSB-Chaired Liverpool City Region Business Group meeting, comprising the major business membership organisations, Combined Authority and BEIS NW;
- Participate in a roundtable with small businesses, enterprise academics and other industry leaders hosted by the Women’s Organisation, the largest developer and deliverer of training and support for women in the UK.
- Before meeting with Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram.
Key topics discussed throughout the day will include the cost of living (and cost of doing business) crisis.
FSB’s latest quarterly Small Business Index (SBI) – published on Monday – indicates flagging business confidence and shows that surging operating costs, a high tax burden and struggles to fill vacancies are threatening the futures of hundreds of thousands of small firms and sole traders across the UK.
FSB Merseyside and Cheshire is working closely with the Combined Authority and other partners to shape business support in light of the recent Shared Prosperity Fund allocations, and following an evidence review highlighting challenges and opportunities particular to Liverpool City Region.
These include real positives, such as the fact that business birth rates are fourth highest in the UK, and that there has been a significant rise in the levels of micro businesses (employing 0-9 staff) over the past 10 years, as well as larger companies. However, although it was finally growing pre-Covid, the city region has the third lowest business density across all Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas.
There are also relatively few ‘high-growth’ firms. FSB supports measures to encourage growth and assist high growth businesses, but is emphasising the importance of start-ups and businesses with more moderate growth trajectories being able to access the full range of support available, in addition to developing new interventions that help all businesses to survive and thrive, innovate and grow.
FSB National Chair Martin McTague said: “It is great to be back in Liverpool, at The Women’s Organisation and Enterprise Hub, to hear about the fantastic work being done across the city region for start-ups and small businesses.
“I welcome the opportunity to talk to members directly. Unfortunately, my visit comes against a backdrop of declining business confidence and a cost of doing business crisis.
“The small business community reduced in size to the tune of hundreds of thousands over lockdowns. Unless policymakers act fast, history is set to repeat itself.”
“Firms desperately need help with the charges that hit them regardless of profitability: business rates, national insurance, utilities, fuel and those linked to supply chain disruption.”
“Now is the time for unequivocally pro-business, pro-growth commitments from our political leaders, local as well as national. I’m delighted to be meeting Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, to talk about initiatives for now and the future.”
Michael Sandys, FSB Area Leader (Liverpool City Region) said: “We are at a critical time for the future of levelling-up and business support in Liverpool City Region and across the UK.”
“Amid a great deal of political uncertainty at present, it is both welcome and reassuring to have FSB’s National Chair in Liverpool, showcasing how effectively FSB’s regions and areas work with our national team to strive for the best possible support ecosystem for small businesses.”
“Many thanks to Martin, and also Maggie O’Carroll and her team at the Women’s Organisation and Enterprise Hub for hosting us and providing a platform for small businesses and key partners to discuss the main challenges and opportunities on the road ahead.”