South Lakeland Businesses Remain Confident Despite Challenges

Confidence levels among South Lakeland businesses remain strong despite massive challenges, a wide-ranging survey has found.

Last year, South Lakeland District Council’s annual business premises survey found confidence levels had returned to pre-pandemic levels.

This year’s survey found just under two thirds of respondents feel confident (63 percent) about the next 12 months, while just under a quarter are expecting their staffing levels to stay the same.

However, compared to the results from the 2021 survey, there has been a 15 percent decrease in confidence rates.

Over half of all responding businesses feel fairly confident about the next 12 months, while one in 10 are very confident. On the other hand, more than one in four (27 percent) are not feeling confident going forward.

Twenty percent of respondents were not very confident and 7.5 percent not at all confident.

The rate of confidence has decreased by 15 percent, while the rate of no confidence has increased by 12 percent.

The survey was carried out by the Economy and Culture team at SLDC between October last year and February this year, with business owners invited to give their views to help shape economic support strategies and inform plans and policies.

Since 2014, the surveys have provided an up-to-date assessment of the supply and demand of business premises in South Lakeland, helping inform the authority’s evidence base about employment needs and the opportunities and challenges faced by businesses operating in South Lakeland.

The intelligence and insight gathered in this latest survey will be carried forward and be available to the new Westmorland and Furness Council, which will replace Cumbria County Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council and Barrow Borough Council on April 1.

The new authority’s vision is for Westmorland and Furness to be “A great place to live, work and thrive” with opportunities for jobs, learning, skills and enterprise; a sustainable, inclusive, diverse, economy; a growing work force and high-quality jobs; support to encourage business creation; and improved infrastructure and connectivity.

Council plan priorities include supporting sustainable ,inclusive, economic growth; new business creation; and the cultural economy to thrive.

There were 1,243 complete useable responses to the 2022 survey. This represents a response rate of 31 percent of businesses that received the survey – the highest response rate seen since the survey began in 2014.

The majority of responding businesses were from the tourism and retail sectors. Those in light industrial and food/drink premises also contributed a significant response rate.

Councillor Robin Ashcroft, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Culture and Leisure, said: “The economic landscape has certainly become more challenging in recent times, which is reflected in these most recent findings from our business premises survey.

“But I am, as always, struck by the level of resilience and innovation shown by businesses in South Lakeland to continue to thrive in the face of such challenges.

“These strengths underline the massive contribution businesses here make towards making our area a great place to live, work and explore.”

Other findings in the survey include:

  • Of the 1,243 responding businesses, 15 per cent (183 businesses) indicated that they would expect their premises needs to change in the next three years. The majority expect to increase in size by means of expanding their existing premises or moving to a larger site. This year’s survey showed a slight shift towards more businesses wanting to downsize, compared to last year’s results which showing a shift towards a need for larger premises.
  • A third of businesses identify energy/fuel costs and staff retention/recruitment as obstacles that prevent their business growing.
  • Around half of the responding businesses are seeking to address rising energy and fuel prices by implementing energy efficiency measures and/or reducing business costs.
  • Overall, two thirds of responding businesses indicated that addressing climate change is important to them.

South Lakeland District Council funding supports new start-ups and young businesses through the Business Start-Up Support programme delivered by Cumbria Business Growth Hub.

Cumbria Business Growth Hub supports those thinking about setting up a business, or in the early years of trading through: expert 1-2-1 advice, a three day business start-up course, free workshops to expand knowledge and skills, access to funding for specialist consultancy support as well as other further support.

If you’re in the first three years of trading you could access 40 percent match funding up to £2,000 to use the services of a specialist consultant to help your business develop and grow.

So could your business benefit from?

  • A new or upgraded website
  • Refreshed or new images/videos
  • Marketing planning/branding support (we can’t fund printing costs)
  • HR, legal, accountancy advice
  • Business planning and future proofing (including succession planning)
  • Accreditations such as ISO or SALSA

There’s also a great range of free support available for existing businesses who work mainly with other businesses or are looking to grow the B2B side further.

More information can be found by calling 0844 257 84 50 or emailing

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) Business Support also provides businesses in Cumbria with support and funding opportunities at all stages of their journey.

Whether you are just starting or a leader of an established business, they offer support and funding programmes to realise your growth potential.

For more information visit or contact CLEP advisors at 0800 069 6444 or email

Cumbria Action for Suitability (CAfS) business support programmes are now closed to new applicants.

However, contact them if you’d like support to reduce your carbon footprint, as there may be other ways then could help your business.

For more information, email or visit