Over the past few days, we’ve been taking a look back at every year in business since 2010. Tomorrow, we will be revealing which town or city was the best place over the decade to set up a small business – based on a variety of factors, including pollution, access to a skilled workforce, number of business start-ups, closures and overall businesses, access to property and employment rate.
But before we reveal the results, here’s a brief look back at last year:
2018 in focus: High Street struggles and Brexit deadlock
In a blow to thousands of small business suppliers throughout the country, Carillion, the UK’s second-largest construction company, went into liquidation in mid-January. Carillion’s overall debts were estimated at £1.5 billion, and with over 30,000 SMEs owed money, the debate over payments to small suppliers from large contractors was reopened.
It wasn’t just the construction industry that was struggling. The High Street continued its recent woes with Toys R Us and Maplin both going into administration on 28 February. M&S then closed 100 stores in April, before HMV fell into administration for a second time towards the end of December.
2018 also saw a greater focus on businesses and individuals to act more environmentally and responsibly. Theresa May followed a pledge to eradicate avoidable plastic waste throughout the UK by 2042, following this up with a proposed ban on plastic straws and cotton buds. Larger firms were also required, as of April 2018, to report their gender pay data.
One continuing thread was business group pressure on Britain’s forthcoming withdrawal from the EU. In June, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders urged the government ‘as a minimum’ to remain in the customs union, and present a deal with ‘single market benefits’. This was followed by the British Medical Association calling for a public say on any final Brexit deal.
Continuing the Brexit theme, in October the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) reported that 80% of UK firms had cancelled or delayed making investments due to the uncertainty of Brexit. This was more than double the figure for the previous year.
In lighter news, however, Pepper the robot became the first non-human to discuss the future of artificial intelligence at a UK parliamentary meeting, talking to MPs:
Tomorrow we will be collating all the evidence and revealing where the best place to start a small business during the 2010s has been. Make sure you join us!