Thursday, October 16th, 2003

September's survey asked for views on delayed payment, expectations, credentials and qualifications, computer based viruses, absenteeism and the quarterly trends questions.

Click here to download this document in Word.

  • About the respondents

    174 respondents were drawn with the following population characteristics:

    Production & Manufacturing Distribution Services Total
    30.5% 8.6% 60.9% 100.0%

    Turnover ()
    < 1 M 1M-3M >3M Total
    64.4% 22.4% 13.2% 100.0%

    Number of Full-time Employees
    1-10 11-20 21-50 51-100 100+ Grand Total
    49.4% 38.5% 6.9% 2.9% 2.3% 100.0%

  • 1. Cash flow can be especially crucial for smaller businesses, and recent legislation has allowed the charging of interest on overdue payments. 49% of respondents to the UKBB find delayed payments cause financial difficulties to a high or moderately high extent, while amongst the business adviser community (UKBAB respondents), 67% find that they cause financial difficulties highly or moderately highly to their clients.

  • 2. In addition we asked if delayed payment is becoming more of a problem. 44% of the responding businesses and 34% of the business advisors think it is.

  • 3. We asked both the UKBB and the UKBAB respondents what their expectations are for the economy compared to a year ago. Both balanced towards optimism, with 2% of UKBB respondents being significantly more optimistic and 36% being more optimistic, while 1% of the UKBAB respondents were significantly more optimistic and 37% were more optimistic. 10% more business advisers than businesses thought it was about the same, while 26% of businesses were more pessimistic compared to 19% of advisers.

  • 4. Most businesses use the services of a business adviser at some time or another, but of the 75% of respondents to the UKBB who found this question applicable, 40% always seek to check credentials and 45% sometimes do. Advisers themselves are very aware of the importance of credentials and 52% always offer assurances on their credentials, while 46% sometimes do. Only 1% of advisers found this question not applicable.

    5. There have been recent news stories of devastating computer system crashes due to ever more pernicious viruses. The extent to which this a problem for smaller businesses is less obvious, but only 36% of respondents to the UKBB and the same percentage of UKBAB respondents have never 'caught' a virus, while 28% of UKBB and 33% of UKBAB respondents have had one in the last month.

    6. The vast majority of both UKBB and UKBAB respondents are well protected by anti-virus software; 79% from the UKBB and 83% from the UKBAB.

  • 7. There have been recent reports that absenteeism is increasing in the workforce, but our surveys were fairly close in their results, with the majority, 54% of UKBB saying it was the same as a year ago, and UKBAB at 51%. 17% of UKBB respondents think it has increased, but 8% say it has decreased, while 8% of UKBAB respondents say it increased and 3% say it decreased but 34% say they don't know.

    8. The five quarterly Trends questions cover the pressures being felt by businesses responding to the Survey. The most recent quarter shows that on average constraint due to skill shortage has increased again, and that due to lack of finance has also increased .

    9. Constraint due to low market demand increased slightly for the third quarter running.

    10. The average growth increased over the last three months compared to the previous three months. but the average expectation of growth over the next quarter is virtually static.

    Listed below are extracts from feedback received in Survey BB64 September 2003.

    Comments are listed under sector headings.

    Views expressed are those of individual panellists and may not represent those of the University.

    Production and Manufacturing

  • Anecdotally, it would seem that many companies we know, are suffering more than they might admit.

  • We feel the government has little or no intrest in manufacturing all the intrest seems to be focused towards training organisations.

    Business Services

  • It would be very beneficial to businesses in general if Government funding opportunities did not carry all the jargon and red tape that it currently does. It would also be helpful if the people who have the various Government contracts understand the criteria and can explain it in simple terms, so that it can be explained to clients who will benefit from the funds available for their business.

  • I run one care home for adults with Learning Disability. The Care Standards Act has placed an intolerable burden of paper exercises and unnecessary targets, making training and management of my staff almost impossible. Thus again the government create a piece of self-defeating legislation to drive standards down, not up. The world seems full of policemen regulating me!