GrowBiz, Scotland’s rural enterprise agency, has warned that rural and island communities are increasingly vulnerable as local businesses struggle to cope with the ‘cost of business crisis’.
The survey has revealed that businesses and social enterprises in rural Scotland are experiencing a crisis of confidence in their futures. Business owners are struggling with a ‘perfect storm’ of increased costs and reduced turnovers, further exacerbated by the additional challenges of operating in a rural area.
Over 80% of our client’s respondents cited rising energy and fuel costs, increased supplier costs and a lack of orders as major issues, contributing to the majority either fearing for their survival or projecting that they will have to make fundamental changes to how they’re operating in order to keep trading.
A further 44% stated that this crisis will have an effect on their general health and wellbeing (e.g. exhaustion, strain, mental health issues) in the near future.
Jackie Brierton MBE, CEO of GrowBiz commented; “We know that consumers and businesses across the UK are facing unprecedented pressures and there is deep anxiety over what the next six months will bring. Our survey of more than 250 rural and island businesses has allowed us to get a clearer picture of how the rural economy, which is worth in the region of £40bn to Scotland’s GVA, is coping. It is alarming that more than 58% of respondents to our survey reported that increased energy costs are having a major impact on their ability to operate. Losing rural businesses will have a serious knock-on effect on the communities they support and could reverse the recent positive population increases we have seen in some rural areas of Scotland..”
With twice the rate of self-employment in rural areas compared to cities, thousands of micro-businesses are facing difficult choices and huge uncertainty about how they will survive this autumn and winter.
Jackie also continued; “Whilst all businesses are facing enormous pressures right now, for rural and island businesses, these pressures are exacerbated by a further range of challenges, including inconsistent broadband coverage, poor transport links and greater distances to food supplies and health services. Our rural communities have never been more vulnerable. It is small and micro enterprises that bind these communities together, and with 44% of rural business owners reporting general wellbeing issues such as exhaustion and mental health issues as an anticipated problem in the near future, we need collaborative action and a radical review of current funding, informed by the needs of rural and island businesses, in order to provide them with the support they urgently need.”
More information on the support available from GrowBiz can be found here:https://www.growbiz.co.uk