Federation of Small Businesses (Scotland)

Jobs figures 'paint a worrying picture'

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Today's job figures haven't pleased the Federation of Small Businesses.

They "paint a worrying picture of a cooling labour market," said chairman Mike Cherry.

"Employment costs are spiralling, and are flagged as the number one cause of higher outgoings among small firms.

"Between pension contributions, rising wages, and national insurance, it’s a real challenge for small businesses to make new hires."

He called for greater assistance with managing the costs, adding: "Employer’s national insurance contributions serve as a jobs tax, and a disincentive to hire."

EU citizen rights 'must be secured'

People looking at an EU settlement scheme sign
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The Home Office has today published statistics showing that fewer than one in three of all EU citizens residing in the UK have had settlement, or pre-settlement, status applications approved by the British government.

As of 31 July, in total 1,040,600 EU citizens and their families from across the UK have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Overall, the total number of applications that have been concluded, as of 31 July, was 951,700. Of these, 64% were granted settled status and 36% were granted pre-settled status.

“European business owners and employees are central to the UK’s economic success. One in five small employers rely on the skills of EU citizens and – with employment levels at record-highs – one in three now say finding the right staff is a major barrier to growth," said Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) chairman Mike Cherry.

“With fewer than 80 days to go until 31 October, it’s critical that every effort is made to reach EU citizens who are digitally excluded, unaware of the need to make a settled status application or part of the sole trader community."

Brexit hitting small firms

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MPs will vote later on whether the UK government broke Parliament's rules by failing to publish the legal advice it received about the Brexit deal.

This latest hurdle is another blow for small firms, according to Craig Beaumont, the director of external affairs and advocacy at the Federation of Small Businesses.

He says the group's members will be looking at the unfolding political drama with increasing unease.

"Confidence has been on a downward track since quarter three and we expect it to accelerate now. If you're a small business why splash out on a new member of staff when you don't know what the economic framework is?", he asks.

He says skill shortages are also causing issues for firms due to a sharp drop in EU migration. "It's a real squeeze at the moment," he says.