Welsh business owners 'experiencing highest levels of mental health issues in UK'

  • Video report by ITV Wales' work and economy correspondent Carole Green

Business owners in Wales are experiencing the highest levels of mental health issues compared with the rest of the UK, figures suggest.

Almost half of smaller business owners reported feeling more stressed than usual due to financial constraints, according to research carried out by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Corporate Finance Network.

It comes as households and businesses feel the squeeze of a cost-of-living crisis and calls are mounting for a windfall tax on energy giants.

The survey, which polled accountants representing more than 17,600 Welsh businesses, revealed some of the reasons they could struggle to survive and grow.

These include:

  • Surging cost inflation

  • Interest rate rises of 0.25% to 0.5%

  • The energy crisis

  • The forthcoming health and social care levy

The Federation of Small Businesses has warned that its members are expected to feel the brunt of crippling energy costs amid record high energy market prices.

Many businesses are not aware of the financial help that is available to them. Credit: PA

Accountants state that many of their small and medium-sized enterprise clients - known as SMEs - are feeling more stressed and anxious than usual.

Overall, the number of business owners reporting worsened mental health conditions has increased to 17% in the UK.

However, in comparison, Wales is experiencing greater overall struggles including the highest levels of stress and anxiety.

The cost-of-living crisis is putting further pressure on small and medium businesses. Credit: PA Images

'Alarming results'

Lloyd Powell, Head of ACCA Cymru Wales, said the results from the research carried out was "alarming". 

“Ultimately, these figures indicate that many Welsh businesses are at risk of failing this year due to the impact of rising costs - including the impending increases in National Insurance contributions and minimum wage rates," he added.

Kirsty McGregor, founder of The Corporate Finance Network, said: "As our research suggests, the hike in National Insurance rates will leave already-demoralised small business owners and sole traders in an extremely testing position UK since before Christmas."

Despite the increasing pressures, it’s reported that a third of Welsh business owners are hopeful about growth ambitions within the next six months. 

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Cymru Wales also recommends that businesses speak to their accountants, who can provide expert advice.

Businesses are expected to feel the brunt of crippling energy costs amid record high energy market prices. Credit: PA Images

Welsh Government 'continuing to act'

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: We have pulled every lever possible to support businesses across Wales since the pandemic hit, and we continue to act to ensure needs are met.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve provided over £2.6bn of support to businesses throughout Wales to help them manage their way through difficult circumstances. Additionally, we announced £10m in November 2021 to help SMEs across Wales to support thousands of people to train to work in key sectors.

“We will continue to work with sector partners to ensure that businesses in Wales get the support they need. The Business Wales service can also provide businesses with well-being information, as well as business planning support to SMEs.”