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Family businesses in Northamptonshire confident about growth but in need of Government support

Posted: 17/12/12 by PwC LLP

Family business owners in Northamptonshire are feeling confident about future growth but feel that they are undervalued and lack sufficient Government support, according to entrepreneurial business experts at PwC.

According to PwC’s latest Global Family Business Survey, 69% of businesses in the UK are aiming to grow steadily in the year ahead and of these companies, 91% are confident of achieving this growth.

However, the majority of respondents believe they lack sufficient support from Government, and are looking for more incentives to encourage start-ups and greater recognition of their importance to the UK economy.

Paul Norbury, partner and Midlands regional private business leader based at PwC’s Milton Keynes office, said: “Family businesses in Northamptonshire play a vital role in the UK economy. These are businesses that are in it for the long term and are helping to bring stability to the local economy by creating jobs and fostering entrepreneurial spirit.

“However, the findings of our survey clearly demonstrate that they don’t feel as valued as other businesses and they are looking to the Government to provide them with more support. This is not just through better access to finance and removing tax barriers, but also through the provision of real incentives to start-up family businesses.”

The survey also found that market conditions and competition remain the key external issues for them, but staffing is the key internal issue, with nearly half of all respondents listing recruitment as a key issue in the next 12 months.

Paul Norbury continued: “Family businesses are proud of the fact they are excellent places to work with a real respect for their staff. This has never been more evident than throughout the recent economic downturn, with 89% of UK respondents saying they have battled hard to retain staff, even in the bad times.

“However, access to skilled workers has proved difficult and more needs to be done in terms of education and schemes such as apprenticeships to ensure family businesses can continue to thrive.

“Having said that, there is much that family businesses can do now to help plug the skills gap through planning and strategy. Our survey results show that family businesses in the region, like those elsewhere, are looking outside of the family for input on matters such as these with 49% of the businesses surveyed in the UK having non-family members on the board and 25% having non-family staff with shares in the company.”

There is some evidence that succession issues are not as much of a concern but there is still concern around keeping the family business in the family with 14% saying they will pass ownership of the business down, but will employ non-family management.

Paul Norbury concluded: “Family businesses contribute 25% of the UK’s GDP and employ over nine million people, yet the results of our survey clearly show they feel under supported and overlooked by the Government. While it is clear that there is much they can do from within to ensure they are well positioned to achieve their growth ambitions, they really are looking to the government to engage with them and listen to them to help them achieve these goals.”

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