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Small business costs ‘continue to rise’

A new survey has suggested that the cost of doing business has continued to increase throughout 2012, with energy costs accounting for the most commonly occurring increase.

The latest quarterly Referendum survey from the Forum of Private Business (FPB) shows that 95% of firms have experienced an overall rise in their business costs, with 85% reporting an increase in the cost of energy.

Meanwhile, 88% of firms saw an increase in transport costs, 82% experienced higher marketing costs, and 73% found the cost of their raw materials and stock were on the rise.

Significantly, one in three business owners reported that they were not able to pass on their rising costs to their customers, with some being forced to reduce staff costs.

According to the report, small business inflation is currently running at 6.7%, meaning that prices have risen faster for SMEs than for other businesses. However, the figure is less than the 8.3% reported last year, suggesting that there has been some improvement.

Commenting on the report, Alex Jackman of the FPB said, ‘The major reasons for increases in prices are predominantly down to VAT and energy prices rising, coupled with the weakness of sterling for importers’.

‘It could be that we are shaping up for another winter of discontent, particularly if the mercury plunges this winter and firms are hit with huge heating bills and a fall in trade like we saw three years ago’.