The latest Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Small Business Index shows an increasing number of businesses want to create jobs in the next three months.
It believes that as this marks the third consecutive quarter of job creation in small firms, it provides more signs that confidence is returning and that momentum behind economic growth is being maintained.
The survey of almost 3,000 businesses shows 15% wish to take on more people in the coming quarter and 11% have increased staff in the previous three months. In each of the English regions firms responding have created jobs, with an above average increases in the West Midlands and east of England with 14%.
Additionally, the report shows a ‘marked improvement’ in the number of businesses accessing finance, with more businesses approved for applications. While the environment remains challenging, this is seen by the FSB as a welcome sign that credit conditions are easing for small firms.
Nevertheless, the survey reveals that the perception persists among businesses that credit availability and affordability is poor, meaning more needs to be done to restore confidence in the banks.
Other key findings are:
- Confidence rose to 35.7, breaking the record score of 33.5 in Q3 2013.
- Almost two thirds of small firms expect to grow in the next 12 months, and one in four plan to increase the amount they invest in their business.
- 25% of firms expect to see an increase in export activity in the coming three months and 10% report growth since Q4 2013.
- More firms expect to see increases to profitability and turnover in the coming three months.
“I believe small firms can do more too – for instance helping long term unemployed youngsters back to work and as the economy continues to improve, boosting wages for the low-paid. With more businesses planning to invest, this can only be good news for the economy and the Chancellor needs to build on this in the Budget.”
With the Chancellor, George Osborne, delivering his Budget as we go to press, the FSB has urged him to build on this confidence. “His announcement should focus on enterprise, completing reforms in key markets notably banking and energy and putting in place a supportive tax environment that encourages small firms to invest, create jobs and grow,” declared John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses.