Fifteen per cent of respondents in a small business survey increased their employee numbers in the third quarter -- and many more plan to do so from next year.
That's according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Voice of Small Business Index, which also notes this is the highest number reported since the index began in 2010.
John Allan, chairman of the FSB, said small-business confidence appears to be on the rise. "Compared with a year ago, small businesses are employing more staff and are looking to expand in the near future," he said.
Allan said that measures starting next spring are likely to continue to boost hiring in smaller firms -- for example the Employment Allowance.
Twenty-eight per cent of small businesses surveyed said they would consider employing more staff as a result of the Employment Allowance -- although another 52 per cent said they would increase staff wages or invest in resources.
"Through the measure, small firms are looking forward to taking on more staff, expanding their businesses and rewarding existing employees for their efforts," he said.
Most businesses in the UK are SMBs, and most unemployed people enter the workforce by either starting their own business or working for an SMB, according to the FSB. With that in mind, the group is looking to lobby the Lib-Dems at their party conference this week for even more government support for small business.
"Unemployment figures show that long term unemployment, particularly among young people, remains a concern," said Allan. "Small firms can create more jobs for the UK economy, but they need greater support from government policymakers. This is more important than ever considering that nearly 900,000 people have been unemployed for more than one year while 960,000 young people remain out of work."
The results correlate with more general statistics recently released on the UK labour market.
The Voice of Small Business Index is quarterly, with the next one due out Friday 13 December.
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