South of Scotland businesses see increasing costs, economic uncertainty and supply chain issues as their main concerns in 2022.
A total of 97% of businesses who took part in the latest South of Scotland Business Panel Survey reported increased costs during the last 12 months, and expect the issue to continue this year.
Despite some uncertainty over how 2022 will progress, four in five (77%) of businesses in the region were optimistic for their prospects for the next 12 months.
The region-wide survey of 602 businesses and social enterprises – which took place in October and November 2021 prior to the emergence of the Omicron variant – also found positive signs of recovery from COVID-19. It found two thirds of businesses were now operating at either the same level (46%), or over and above (23%), their pre-pandemic position.
The survey interviewed a representative sample of South of Scotland businesses and social enterprises from various sectors who provided their thoughts on a series of important topics such as performance, labour, supply chain, operating levels, Fair Work and Net Zero.
The South of Scotland Business Panel Survey was launched last year and is the first of its kind for the region.
It is commissioned by South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) as part of a wider collaborative pilot project with Highlands and Island Enterprise (HIE) and the Scottish Government which will create the first business panel for the whole of rural Scotland. Fieldwork was conducted by Ipsos MORI.
Other key findings from the latest survey include:
- Top priorities – the most common priorities for businesses over the next 12 months were keeping pace with new technology (51%) and innovating or evolving what they do (46%)
- Financial concerns and access to finance – around a third (36%) were concerned about at least one of the following aspects of their finance: low or no cash reserves (26% concerned), existing debt (15%) and access to finance (14%). Around half (48%) of businesses had applied for financial support in the past 12 months, of which 94% were successful.
- Increased costs – businesses response to increased costs was mixed, but were more likely to absorb costs rather than pass them on to customers through price increases.
- Labour – Among those for whom it was relevant, 49% overall said they had experienced some form of labour shortages: 40% arising from recruitment or retention challenges, and 37% arising from staff absence.
- Supply chain – among those for whom it was relevant, 74% were experiencing some form of supply chain issue. Four in five (83%) of businesses that were experiencing supply chain issues said this had led to increased costs.
- Net Zero – 96% said they were taking action to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, with the main action being recycling and minimising their waste (90%) followed by using more locally sourced supplies (70%) and improving the energy efficiency of premises (47%).
- Fair Work – three-quarters (75%) of businesses said they were taking action to support Fair Work for their staff, with almost two-thirds (63%) saying they pay the real Living Wage, and more than half (55%) committed to flexible working since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The full report is available at www.southofscotlandenterprise.com/business-surveys.
Jane Morrison-Ross, Chief Executive of SOSE, said:
“The South of Scotland Business Panel Survey is a really important exercise which allows us to gauge the current mood of the business community in the region.
“The survey highlights the ongoing difficulties being faced, with increased costs, labour shortages and supply chain issues at the forefront of business concerns.
“Despite these challenges, it is encouraging to see optimism for 2022 among the South of Scotland business community for the next 12 months.
“It is also fantastic to see businesses and social enterprises recognising the importance of Fair Work and Net Zero, and taking action. SOSE has Fair Work and Net Zero dedicated staff available to assist any business or social enterprise looking to progress their journeys in these areas.
“With the SOSE team having expanded in recent months, we have a breadth of skills and experience available to support any business, social enterprise or community group wishing to take forward an idea or challenge. So please, come and talk to us.”
Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chair of SOSE, added:
“I must thank the 600 businesses and social enterprises who gave up their time to take part in the second South of Scotland Business Panel Survey.
“The survey data will help SOSE and our local and national partners understand the challenges being faced by businesses.
“It will also highlight the opportunities where we can support the South of Scotland to become the centre of opportunity, innovation and growth which we all want it to be.”
If interested in the South of Scotland Business Panel please get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.