Staff costs and skills shortages likely to hamper growth, warn London businesses

Jan 10 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Skills shortages, along with high business rates and staff costs, will be the biggest barriers to growth for medium sized businesses in London this year, according to accountants KPMG and the London Chamber of Commerce.

A survey of 1,000 middle market businesses in the capital found that nearly two thirds – 67 per cent - of companies felt the high costs associated with employing staff and the skills shortage in London would be most likely to stifle growth.

This was followed by the high cost of business rates, with more than half of this polled worrying about its impact on growth prospects.

London’s creaking transport infrastructure was the third most pressing worry, at 34 per cent.

Ian Hopkinson head of employment tax at KPMG, said: “Staff costs will be up there as a major issue for middle market companies particularly in London; this is an issue for pretty much all employers.

“In showing that they do value staff a little flexibility can go a long way. Cash is clearly important but looking at current trends it is equally as important to think about what other benefits are being provided and how flexible an employer is around this,” he added.

Other findings including the worrying result that 63 per cent of respondents said they did not have a business continuity plan in place for the next year and beyond in the event of a major incident or terrorist attack in London.

Only three out of 10 – 34 per cent - had undertaken a risk assessment, 20 per cent had a business continuity plan in place, just 8 per cent a dedicated business continuity team and only 12 per cent had actually tested their plans.

The vast majority – 92 per cent – wanted mayor Ken Livingstone to make modernising the transport system a priority, with 53 per cent saying it should be crime.