Money worries top the list of concerns for Bedfordshire firms as they gear up for growth in the new year, according to a snap survey by the county branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
The branch asked its 2,000 members in the county for their wishes for 2014 and finance was the top concern identified by respondents.
Ian Cording, the FSB’s Bedfordshire branch chairman, said: “Concerns over finance are holding companies back in a range of ways, including in the way business rates work and a lack of information on alternatives to the banks as a source of funding.
“If the government really wants to accelerate growth to its full potential, it needs to act on finance issues as a matter of urgency.”
Mr Cording added: “The Federation of Small Businesses, as well as offering great member benefits, is a lobbying organisation taking its members concerns to the heart of government. This snap survey was useful in identifying the concerns of our members so we can make the case on their behalf.”
One company told the survey: “We would like to move from our current location where we pay minimal rates to an industrial area but the extra amount that we would have to pay in business rates would be £9,000 per annum. This is holding us back.”
Another said: “I have a shop in Dunstable and a hot desk facility in Leighton Buzzard. Under this arrangement I get business rates relief.
“If I were to expand and upgrade Leighton Buzzard to a dedicated shop front I would be penalised as I would then have two properties and regardless of rateable value I would lose all relief.”
On access to finance, a company said: “There are options other than the banks but the message as to where to look for these alternatives is mixed and confusing.”
Another bugbear for smaller firms is the attitude of larger organisations to paying them.
One business said big firms should “set up by payment promptly, particularly when they want work done urgently and at all hours, instead of shilly shallying about with no explanation over a month later when money is owed.”
Another concern over broadband connectivity was identified.