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Are British family businesses really an unappreciated bunch?

The challenges being faced by family-owned companies in the UK may be plenty but non-family businesses are also facing similar problems in the wake of the economic turmoil.

The challenges being faced by family-owned companies in the UK may be plenty but non-family businesses are also facing similar problems in the wake of the economic turmoil.

That’s according to Tim Angel, chairman and the fifth-gen at London-based costumier Angels, who told CampdenFB: “[Family businesses] are no different to other UK businesses in terms of the problems faced and the challenges we have experienced, especially in the current economic climate that has undoubtedly affected companies across industries and sectors without exception.”

He was commenting on the back of the findings of a study released by PwC, which found the majority of 100 British firms surveyed described themselves as the “unloved sector of the UK industry”. Family firms said the UK government does not appreciate them, despite the important role they play in the country’s economic growth.

The study, which canvassed 2,000 family-owned groups in 28 countries worldwide, found the relationship between firms in the UK and the British government among the worst. Only family firms in Russia, France, Romania and Greece felt less valued by their governments.

Sian Steele, director and head of family businesses at PwC, said: “[Family firms] don’t feel as valued as other businesses in the UK and they are looking to the government to provide them with more support. This is not just through better access to finance and removing tax disadvantages, but through the provision of incentives to start up family businesses and also providing some recognition for the role they play in the UK economy in terms of stability, job creation and entrepreneurial spirit.”

But Angel reckons all companies face similar hardships. “While these survey results do raise several issues that are relevant to family businesses, my concerns regarding government policy are likely to be the same as those of any other retailer or commercial enterprise.”

He added: “I would support the lowering of VAT and the reduction of complex bureaucracy and red tape – as would every other CEO in the country.”

Families appear concerned about recruitment, with respondents citing staffing as a big issue in the next 12 months due to a lack of skilled workers. The survey found that those working in family businesses also didn’t “believe that young people entering the job market have the right skills and education they require”.

Angel said: “Regarding the employability of young people, government intervention within the education system to improve the responsibility and tangible work skills of school leavers would benefit businesses across the UK enormously, regardless of whether they are family operated or not.”

The group is well known for supplying costumes to Oscar-winning films such as 2011’s Alice in Wonderland, 1998’s Shakespeare in Love, Gladiator (2000) and Titanic (1997).

Read more about the findings of the full PwC survey here.

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