For the past 45 years the Federation of Small Businesses has been the UK’s largest grassroots business campaigning group, ensuring the voice of small businesses is heard at the highest levels and providing support to its members.
Small businesses in Peterborough and across the country have been at the heart of the coronavirus pandemic, with Government’s and local authorities forced to step in to save the futures of thousands of firms and millions of jobs through grants, loans and furloughs.
FSB’s own research found that by the end of April 2020, 41 per cent of small firms had temporarily closed, while the ONS found that those businesses still trading, 24 per cent reported their turnover had decreased by more than 50 per cent.
However, despite these incredibly difficult times for many, with hugely uncertain futures ahead the resilience of the country’s 5.8 million small businesses has never been more on display than it has during this pandemic.
Countless small businesses are coming forward to help each other, engaging in their local communities and doing their bit to get through to the other side of the crisis.
Even before the country started shutting down, FSB research had found that 80 per cent of small firms volunteered and/or contributed to a local community organisation or charitable cause.
Small business leaders have been at the frontline, carrying out key community roles during the crisis (57 percent), prioritising and supporting vulnerable customers (30 percent), donating provisions to local food banks (24 percent), supporting to key workers (23 percent) and home deliveries to vulnerable customers free of charge (19 per cent) as well as signing up to be NHS volunteers (9 percent).
And now, the FSB is calling on people to help support their local Peterborough firms first as we begin our long, shared journey to economic recovery.
As consumers we can all do a bit to shop local and support our independents. But the FSB are also calling for public sector procurement to be made fully accessible to small businesses during the recovery.
“This is something which would really make a difference” says Peter Melkowski, owner of Peterborough business Print Solutions. “My company contributes locally in so many ways.
“We actively support local charities and social groups, we help young people to understand the role print has in education, marketing and the environment. We follow a sustainability code with environmentally conscious guidelines. Our investment in this city is assured as we employ locally.
“Therefore, we would like to see real engagement, transparency and support from Peterborough City and Cambridgeshire local authorities on tendering for local firms.
“When local councils talk about not being able to cut back and still refuse to source their products locally then they are missing a great commercial advantage. Quality assured, the advantage of time in dealing locally will inevitably bring the savings.”
Making up 99 per cent of all businesses in the country, small firms are already the backbone of the economy as well as being at the heart of their local communities which is why they will play a pivotal role in the economic recovery over the weeks and months to come.
Therefore, it has never been more important to support small firms, shop local and support the nation’s self-employed.