Wednesday, October16th, 2002
In the September survey, the opening question was "How would you use a
consultant for a day?" We then turned to emerging new factors possibly
affecting the running costs of businesses: Trades Union membership, cost
increases due to pension legislation, responses to increased insurance, N.I.
contribution costs, and Data Protection. In the light of recently published
national statistics we asked "Are you a family run business?" Our quarterly
business trends results are also included this month. Results are summarised
here. For the latest results please visit results.
About the respondents
126 respondents were drawn with the following population characteristics:
|Production & Manufacturing
|< 1 M
|Number of Full-time Employees
48% of respondents to the September Survey would choose Marketing as the issue
they would most like addressed by a free day's consultancy. The remainder were
spread between recruitment, finance, management skills and regulation, but the
least interest was shown in recruitment. In April we asked how often external
advice is sought on Marketing, and found that 55% of respondents already
consult at least once a year, and 6% consult more than 5 times a year about
Marketing. 49% of respondents to the July survey have never used outside
Trades Union membership appears not to be a major issue for by far the largest
majority of our respondents. Only 16% had any membership at all by their
employees - equivalent to 22% after excluding the 'not applicable' responses.
Back in February 2001, 68% believed that they would have their costs increased
by the introduction of Stakeholder Pensions but so far half of respondents have
not had to increase their resources in any respect to deal with it. Some of
those that have been impacted have faced doubling, trebling, quadrupling or
more of costs of pension arrangements.
Other 'difficult to control' costs where increases have recently been announced
include insurance premia and employers' National Insurance contributions. Over
half of the firms who respond to our survey think they will absorb these
increases through lowering their profit margin rather than increasing prices or
some other tactic. Firms are also more likely to try to 'share' the NI increase
burden with employees through lower pay rises or higher productivity than they
are to try to offset their higher insurance costs through lower pay
The Data Protection Act 1998 was brought into force on 1 March 2000. This Act
has implications for everyone who processes manual or electronic personal data.
Small businesses may not formerly define a policy and only 63% of our
respondents say that they have one.
Although 64% of our respondents think of their businesses as family owned or
managed, this is less than the UK average of 75%.
Over the third quarter, weighted average constraints due to skill shortages and
to finance have slightly increased, those due to lack of market demand have
Over the last three months slightly more businesses expanded or were static
than declined, but the growth averaged out at about the same, positive, level
as the second quarter average. Looking forward, the average expectation is for
an increased growth, with those expecting expansion outnumbering those
Listed below are extracts from feedback received in Survey
BB51 August 2002.
Comments are listed under sector headings.
Views expressed are those of individual panellists and may not represent those
of the University.
We operate within the rail industry, which is suffering over regulation due to
past incidents. This in turn has affected the insurance market. Added to this
is the administration of Railtrack and you have a most unusual set of
Cautious venture capital markets are severely constraining business growth in
the young innovative/entrepreneurial businesses, which we seek to support.
Production & Manufacturing
The government legislation and lack of sympathy for the manufacturing industry
has finally beaten us. This is the last entry we will be making.
In the last 20 years we have not seen before the decline we now have in the
/ Tel: 0115 84 66860.