Small businesses cautiously optimistic into 2013

Research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) reveals small firms have higher confidence levels and are cautiously optimistic about business in 2013.

The Small Business Index – a measure of confidence used in the sector) stood at -5.6 in the fourth quarter of 2012. This figure is 18.8 points higher than for the same period last year, which was recorded just as the UK economy slid into double-dip recession.

Despite upbeat indicators, small businesses still face cost pressures, and sectors that rely on discretionary consumer spending, such as beauty and spa companies, will continue to face challenges.

Price increases and inflation are also named by the FSB as two of the biggest issues faced by small businesses in the year ahead.

While fewer small businesses applied for finance in the last quarter, more who did were accepted, up 49.3%, from 42.8% in The third quarter of 2012.

More than one third of companies have prioritised investment in 2013, and new Autumn Statement policies, such as the £250,000 tax-free investment allowance for small businesses and scrapping the 3p fuel duty increase planned for January, should provide assistance. 

FSB national chairman John Walker said: “Small firms want to get on, grow their business and invest. We urged the Chancellor to put small firms at the heart of the Autumn Statement and many of his plans will help.

“However there is still more to do, especially around accessing finance. Previous recessions have shown that demand for finance is at it’s highest during the recovery stage.”