Family firms keep growing but feel unloved

Family businesses in the UK have demonstrated solid growth in the last year and are looking to build on this in the coning five years. Yet they continue to feel unloved, saying the government does not recognise their importance to the UK economy.

British family businesses currently employ more than nine million people and contribute 25 per cent of the UK’s GDP, according to research by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

“Family businesses are key to the recovery of the UK economy,” says Sian Steele, director and head of family business at PwC. “Yet the results of our survey clearly show they feel under-supported and overlooked by the government.”

Despite the economic downturn, the outlook is positive for the family business sector, with 47 per cent of UK companies demonstrating sales growth. Although this figure is lower than the global percentage of 65 per cent, 12 per cent of UK family businesses are aiming to grow “quickly and aggressively”, with a further 69 per cent aiming to grow “steadily”. Of these companies, 91 per cent are confident of achieving this growth.

“These are businesses that are in it for the long term, many of them have been around since the turn of the century and seen the economy through an industrial revolution and two world wars,” says Steele.

“But they are looking to the government to provide them with more support. This is not just through better access to finance and tax advantages, but also through the provision of incentives to start-up family businesses and provide some recognition for the role they play in the UK economy in terms of stability, job creation and entrepreneurial spirit.”

Market conditions and competition remain the key external issues for family businesses, but staffing is the key internal issue, with nearly half of all respondents listing recruitment as a key issue in the next 12 months.

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