A MAJOR new report from FSB, ‘Small Business, Big Heart: Bringing communities together’, has examined the contribution of smaller firms to both local jobs markets and to the success of their neighbourhoods.

Its findings show small businesses and the self-employed are very often the heartbeat of their communities, through their volunteering activities, support for local schools and colleges, and their willingness and ability to employ those furthest from the labour market.

The official launch event of the report took place on Monday.

Its many findings included showing that a staggering 95 per cent of FSB small business employers have employed at least one worker from a labour market disadvantaged group in the last three years.

Almost nine out of ten (89 per cent) offer all or some of their staff flexible working. Plus, eight out of ten (80 per cent) of FSB members have volunteered and/or contributed to a local community organisation or charitable cause in the last three years.

In addition, almost a fifth (19 per cent) of small businesses employ at least one person with a mental health condition, while more than one in ten (11 per cent) employ at least one worker with a disability.

What’s more, the West Midlands is one of the top three places in the UK in terms of having small businesses that have volunteered for, or contributed to their local community or charitable cause, in the last three years.

These are just a few examples of the many ways that small businesses are making a really big contribution to people who are often perceived as and, unfortunately, are often forced to be, furthest from the workplace.

The report goes on to recommend Government action in five key areas. They are areas for action that would help small businesses to do even more in enabling individuals and communities to overcome challenges and seize opportunities.