Cost of living: Scottish business-owners supporting employees financially, according to Rathbones
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Wealth-manager Rathbones, which in Scotland has offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow, has found that 44 per cent of business-owners north of the Border have given their employees regular financial help in the last six months (just ahead of the UK-wide figure of 43 per cent), while a further 22 per cent have given a one-off lump sum to staff to help with rising costs.
The firm noted that this comes despite many companies, and in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), also facing their own major uptick in costs, supply-chain issues, and the winding-down of the Energy Bills Support Scheme this month.
Rathbones, which recently announced that it is acquiring Investec Wealth & Investment UK, discovered via its research that those in the Highlands and Islands were the most generous to staff, with just under half reporting to have offered regular financial support in the last six months. Joint-second in the rankings were Edinburgh and the Lothians plus Scotland South (both 45 per cent), followed by Tayside, Central and Fife (43 per cent), and Glasgow and Strathclyde (41 per cent).
More widely, Rathbones’ research found that 55 per cent of high net worth individuals (defined as having more than £250,000 in investable assets) in Scotland have helped their children or grandchildren over the last six months with regular financial support for bills, reaching 62 per cent in the Highlands and Islands. A further 29 per cent north of the Border have provided a one-off cash payment.
The findings come against the backdrop of inflation having reached 10.1 per cent in March “and with the cost of everyday groceries the main driver, many households are feeling the strain on their finances”, said Rathbones, which itself noted in its annual report for 2022 that it provided a one-off cost-of-living payment to eligible employees.
Other financial firms to have announced pay-packet increases to help their workforces manage larger bills include last year KPMG awarding employees a special “overnight” flat salary increase of up to £4,000; and life and pensions mutual Royal London announcing a permanent £1,000 salary boost for its lowest-paid workers; while in January of this year Edinburgh-based Tesco Bank said it was giving thousands of staff a £1,250 pay rise.
Angus Kerr, head of Scotland at Rathbones, said: “With times tough for many individuals, it’s encouraging to see so many business-owners stepping in to support their employees. Whether it’s regular financial support or a one-off payment, the help provided by business-owners or higher earners will make a real difference in many people’s lives.
“However, it’s vital that business-owners are also protecting their [organisations] and their personal finances throughout this time too. With limited support for SMEs currently available, many could see their costs rise significantly in the coming months. SMEs account for 99.9 per cent of the UK business population, and play an important role both as an employer across the UK and to our economy. Ensuring your business is equipped to handle whatever comes next is therefore important.”