Employment hits record high as small businesses regain confidence

POSTED: 17th October 2013
IN: Business news

Less than a month after the latest Voice of the Small Business Index reported that more SMEs were looking to expand their workforce, the Office for National Statistics has now revealed UK employment hit record levels in the third quarter.

According to ONS data, 29.87 million people were in work in the three months to August; an increase of 155,000 on the previous quarter, contributing to an overall employment rate of 71.7 per cent. This welcome news follows on from earlier findings from the Federation of Small Businesses, which uncovered a significant upturn in the proportion of SMEs growing their workforce (currently at fifteen per cent).

"Compared with a year ago, small businesses are employing more staff and are looking to expand in the near future," commented the FSB's National Chairman John Allan at the time, concluding, "This points to growing confidence from the UK's small businesses."

As UK SMEs are responsible for an estimated 59.1 per cent of employment within the public sector, this increasingly positive outlook is also a strong sign that the upward employment trend could continue further.

For this hope to translate into real results though, small businesses must be given access to the resources they require to expand their operations and take on new staff, including capital. This has notoriously been a widespread issue amongst the SME community in recent years, with cautious banks reluctant to lend to smaller companies.

Encouragingly though, the latest Bank of England Credit Conditions survey suggests the situation may be on the verge of changing. Responses from lenders show financial institutions are looking to meet SMEs' increased appetite for capital, expecting loan approval rates for small businesses to improve in the next few months. 

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