Home   News   Article

DAVID RICHARDSON: New FSB report shows how support can help rural businesses grow

By David Richardson

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

Business Comment by David Richardson, regional development manager at the Federation of Small Businesses

David Richardson, regional development manager at FSB.
David Richardson, regional development manager at FSB.

We all know that the lives of the folk living and working in Dornoch, Dunnet and Durness are poles apart from their urban cousins in Inverness, and the situation is no different when it comes to the opportunities and challenges faced by businesses.

But while these differences might be extreme in the Highlands, the disparity between rural and urban exists right across the UK.

Recognising that small rural firms face a unique set of challenges and inequalities that will continue to stunt their growth unless governments intervene, the Federation of Small Businesses’ new UK-wide report, The Growth Belt: Supporting Rural Small Businesses, presents new ideas on how rural businesses can be transformed into an "economic growth-belt".

For while rural businesses are struggling against a backdrop of mounting energy costs, staff shortages, poor transport links, unreliable broadband and so on, their great diversity, ambition, dedication and professionalism all shine out too. So, what should be done to help them unleash their full potentials?

Well, amongst other things our report recommends that the basic VAT taxable turnover threshold should be raised from £85,000 to £100,000 to encourage rather than discourage small-business growth.

Energy suppliers should allow vulnerable businesses who were obliged to negotiate new contracts at the wholesale price peak in 2022 to renegotiate or "blend and extend" them. Reliable, fully-maintained EV charging infrastructure must be in place by 2030, and the UK government should commit to a long-term fuel duty freeze and make the temporary 5p-per-litre cut a permanent policy.

Easing the staffing crisis, we’d like to see the quota-free extension of the Youth Mobility Scheme to EU countries, and wouldn’t it be great if the Highlands and Islands was chosen to pilot the remote visa scheme recommended by the Migratory Advisory Committee?

Finally, to help avoid repeats of the current controversies surrounding new and proposed Scottish Government regulations like DRS, Short-term Lets Licensing, Highly Protected Marine Areas and alcohol advertising restrictions, rural proofing must be introduced to ensure that the needs of rural businesses and communities, especially in the Highlands, are taken into account when new proposals are being designed and implemented.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More