More than half of business owners in South Lakeland are positive about the future according to the results of a wide-ranging survey.
The survey was carried out by the economy and culture team at South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) between October last year and February this year, with business owners invited to give their views to help shape South Lakeland District Council’s economic support strategies – of critical importance as the coronavirus pandemic continues – and inform its plans and policies.
Fifty four per cent of respondents to the South Lakeland Business Premises Survey said they felt confident about the next 12 months, including eight per cent who said they were very confident. This compares to 73 per cent who felt confident in the previous survey.
Deeply felt economic impact
Thirty five per cent were not very or not at all confident, compared with 17 per cent in the previous survey undertaken before coronavirus, underlining the wide-ranging and deeply-felt economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic since March last year.
A total of 244 responding businesses (19 per cent of the total) expect their premises/business needs to change over the next three years. Eighty (33 per cent of those anticipating change) would consider expanding their existing site and 20 per cent would look at moving to a larger site, while 12 per cent may acquire additional premises to satisfy their need to change.
The survey is undertaken annually to provide an up-to-date local assessment of business needs over the next 12 months – but takes on even more importance than usual as SLDC aims to support economic recovery while the country continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, reopen following lockdown and help drive recovery.
Other findings include:
- The majority of those possibly looking for new premises would do so in Kendal. Most likely types of premises these businesses would be looking for are retail, office and light industrial units, of different sizes.
- Just under half of responding businesses are seeking to address climate change issues by implementing energy efficiency measures, while just under a quarter are utilising green technologies.
- The response rate was 30 per cent (1,259 responses), the highest response rate seen so far since the survey began in 2014.
Councillor Robin Ashcroft, portfolio holder for economy, culture and leisure, said: “Despite the tremendous economic pressures seen worldwide over the past year, these finding are testament to the amazing resilience, innovation and drive of businesses in South Lakeland. To find more than half are in some way confident for the next 12 months is nothing short of astounding.
“We undertake this survey of the business community annually and the information gathered is vital in giving us a clear picture of what is happening now, as well as an indication of future plans, which means we can offer support and advice where required and also develop our strategies and policies based on first-hand evidence.
“Of course, there is a huge amount of work needed now and in the coming months and years to support businesses in their journeys to recovery.
“Everything we have been told here and continue to be told by business, partners and stakeholders will inform everything South Lakeland District Council is doing at the moment to aid business recovery and stimulate the right conditions for our local economy to flourish again.
“The breadth of work we are involved in to help drive economic recovery is wide. It is only right that we do that, and it is testament to SLDC’s long history of sound financial management and professional excellence that we have the resources to see that through.”
Cllr Ashcroft, who chairs an Economic Renewal Strategy Group for South Lakeland which has representation from MPs, major employers and partners from around the district, added: “In the meantime, SLDC ensures business support and advice is available to firms in the district. I would urge anybody who feels in need to take up that offer.”
SLDC funding supports Cumbria Chamber of Commerce’s Growth Hub and Business Start-up Support (BSUS) in providing advice and support to new and existing South Lakeland firms.
Businesses can contact the Growth Hub by emailing [email protected]