Home   News   Article

DAVID RICHARDSON: Problems are still stacking up for many of our Highland businesses

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

The tumultuous events of the past 12 days have gripped the country, the Elizabethan age drawing to a sudden close and the dawning of the time of Charles III.

But, however sad, emotional, and thought-provoking it all is, the minds of many business owners in Inverness and the wider Highlands are preoccupied with events closer to home: their bottom lines.

With skyrocketing energy and other costs, interest rates set to rise still higher, debts like Bounce Back Loans to be repaid, serious shortages of key staff and some materials and, of course, increasingly shaky consumer demand, it’s no wonder that business confidence is plummeting.

As both FSB and media commentators continually point out, the UK as a whole is in a desperate situation and businesses need help.

And while the Prime Minister’s recent announcement of a price cap on energy for businesses as well as domestic users is extremely welcome, we need to know what it means in practice before we can properly evaluate it.

But help shouldn’t stop there. We want government to ensure that businesses are not left teetering on cliff edges once the six-month price cap expires, to reverse the forthcoming hike in National Insurance contributions and to reduce fuel duty and VAT, especially on non-domestic energy.

We also expect Highland Council to use the almost £3 million Covid business support grant underspend currently in its coffers to support small, local businesses through winter.

Finally, in this time of danger for local businesses, economies and communities, nothing new should be introduced that risks making the situation worse.

FSB is calling for Highland Council to freeze fees and charges on areas such as waste, licensing and planning, and rents on its commercial properties for at least two years.

Very importantly, the introduction of controversial and costly innovations like the Short-term Lets Licensing Scheme, the Deposit and Return Scheme, and the Local Visitor Levy should be put on hold until the economy stabilises.

Why gamble with businesses’ lives and the jobs they provide?

David Richardson is Highlands and Islands manager for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

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