Sussex Business Confidence Remains Low Despite Election

After the UK general election announcement in May we asked local business owners to share their thoughts on general business confidence in the Sussex region and the top challenges facing businesses over the next 12 months. One month on and we have been crunching the numbers based on the response we received from the Sussex business community at large.

We wanted to gauge the sentiment of local businesses in an uncertain climate, facing a looming change of government, in order to glean valuable insights into the current state of business confidence, challenges and expectations for the future. With the data now in, we’ve analysed the results and the key findings are outlined below.

Election Impact on Business Confidence

Ever since Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made his rain-soaked announcement of a surprise early election, to be held on 4th July, polls have consistently shown a very high probability that the country will soon have a new government. So if the election is all but decided, does that mean there is greater confidence in the future for Sussex businesses?

Contrary to what some might expect, our research reveals that the upcoming general election is not significantly boosting business confidence in the region. Here are the key takeaways:

  • 37% of businesses believe the election is not increasing confidence
  • 33% are undecided about the election’s impact
  • Only 30% feel the prospect of a new government is giving businesses a boost

Despite this election-related uncertainty, it’s encouraging to note that 76% of surveyed businesses remain optimistic about trading conditions over the next 12 months and beyond.

Key Priorities for the Next Government

Our survey respondents have clear ideas about what they’d like to see from the incoming government:

  • Tackling Late Payments: 45% call for legislation requiring larger companies to pay invoices within 30 days
  • Tax Relief: 42% want to see a reduction in corporation tax
  • Improved Access to Grants: 38% emphasise the importance of better access to innovation and green initiative grants
  • Business Rates Reform: 32% urge for changes in this area
  • Entrepreneur Incentives: 28% would like to see the reintroduction of better tax incentives for entrepreneurs selling businesses

Current Business Climate

As well as looking to the future, we wanted to better understand how local businesses are feeling about current trading conditions and the first half of 2024 has seen mixed results for Sussex businesses. Here are how the responses were split:

  • 42% report steady business
  • 29% have experienced growth
  • 29% say business has been slow, with customers reluctant to spend or sign new contracts

Looking ahead, 60% of businesses expect their staff numbers to remain stable in the coming year, while just 23% anticipate growth in their teams. With a rising unemployment rate nationally, our research suggests few businesses expect to be helping improve the falling national vacancy rate and the incoming government will want to address this if it is to kickstart national growth.

Challenges on the Horizon

Several key challenges were identified by our Sussex business confidence survey respondents for the next 12 months:

  • 78% believe the cost-of-living crisis will continue to impact spending
  • 60% cite rising costs of energy and raw materials as a concern for profit margins
  • 32% are affected by shortages of skilled employees
  • 8% face challenges with seasonal employee shortages

In Summary

While the general election may not be boosting confidence significantly, Sussex businesses remain resilient and broadly optimistic about the future. At JetSpace, we’re committed to supporting local businesses with flexible office solutions that allow them to focus on growth and innovation, regardless of the political and economic climate.

We hope you’ve found this research useful and insightful. As we move further into the unknown, we’ll continue to monitor the business landscape and provide the supportive environments that Sussex companies need to thrive. If you’re looking for serviced office space to rent in Sussex for your business, get in touch with JetSpace.

JetSpace Sussex Business Survey Press Release

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