There’s no better argument for local investment than checking out Companies House.

Oftentimes, you see investors arguing for bringing in big companies, international chains, franchises. The idea is that these businesses are more secure than a small local retailer, they will create more jobs, and they will boost local spending.

Look a little closer at their public accounts, though, and you see some of the cracks showing.

  • You see that the “big chain” hasn’t filed its confirmation statements months after the deadline has passed.
  • You see that the “secure enterprise” is changing directors every three months.
  • You see that huge employers make their accounts private,
  • You see that they register huge losses despite giving every sign of sustained growth and planned expansions.
  • You see the employer that advertises “great work culture” has more charges filed against them than they have confirmation statements.

On the other side of the coin, local shops you thought were unsustainable show a consistent accounts filing history over their lifetimes. They show you every debt, every asset, every penny in tax they have paid. If you wonder why your local restaurant charges you £20+ for a meal, all you have to do is look at how much they spend on ingredients, salaries and electricity to know.

Small business accounts are fairly straightforward to understand, and you can see just who has been naughty and who has been nice. They may not generate a lot of income in their first years, but they are more likely to stay on the high street for the long term, paying rent and taxes, employing people, and re-investing their profits. From a data standpoint, such local ventures have proven that they deserve to be incentivised.