A study by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found small businesses were overwhelmingly reliant on roads, with nine in 10 placing high value on the network.
However, congestion, poorly maintained local roads and lack of regional strategic planning together posed ‘a significant economic barrier to economic growth’, particularly in rural areas.
The report, Going the extra mile: Connecting businesses and rural communities, showed rural businesses were more likely to rely on roads as they often reported little or no access to public transport.
The FSB is calling for new combined authorities to commit to greater investment in local transport. Protecting transport spending and better strategic planning would also help, it said.
Chairman Mike Cherry said: “The Government’s investing in transport but the lion’s share goes to big flagship projects on the strategic road network. There’s a strong case to prioritise investment in smaller projects which will help alleviate congestion and bottlenecks.
“Small businesses want more resources earmarked for rural transport. This will help support rural small businesses and the UK tourism industry, which are both disproportionately affected when local bus networks and roads are left to deteriorate.”
The top three issues for rural businesses were congestion, potholes and the cost of fuel.
The FSB would like to see these issues addressed in devolution deals and has called on the Government to maintain its commitment to freeze the duty escalator through to the end of this parliament.