SMALL businesses in Swindon and the wider area are feeling far less confident about their futures.

Optimism about the coming months had risen at the start of this year but increasing costs and staffing issues have led to confidence levels plummeting.

The Federation of Small Businesses' report for the spring quarter shows that improvements in confidence reported at the start of the year have been dramatically reversed and positivity in the south west's small and medium-sized enterprises is now at its lowest levels since the Covid pandemic.

The downturn in confidence reflects growing concerns over the general economic picture, the rising costs of doing business and an ongoing recruitment and staffing crisis.

Nervousness about the future is reflected in the reduced amount of the region's businesses predicting they will grow in the next 12 months.

However, more companies are saying they are likely to add to their staffing numbers in the next quarter rather than reduce them and, despite difficult trading conditions, nearly one in five of those polled say they plan to increase investment in the next three months.

FSB South West regional policy representative Craig Carey-Clinch reflected on the new report by Britain's biggest business group.

He said: “We must just hope that our report and its findings will serve to remind both regional and national policymakers that they can’t simply take our local SMEs for granted.

“Without practical support and understanding of the many issues facing small businesses we will see more of them struggling throughout 2022 and that can only be bad news for the region and also for Great Britain plc as a whole.”

The regional report is part of the wider national FSB quarterly survey which echoed the findings seen in the south west and showed business confidence falling heavily all over the UK.

National chair Martin McTague said: “The cost of doing business crisis has worsened to the point where confidence is now lower than during last year’s massively disrupted festive trading season.

“We’re looking to prime ministerial candidates for unequivocally pro-business, pro-growth commitments. There is still time to act, but time is of the essence.”

Businss experts at FSB offer their members a wide range of vital business services, including advice, financial expertise, support and a powerful voice in government.

Its aim is to help smaller businesses achieve their ambitions. More information is available at or can follow the organisation on Twitter @fsb_policy