Boom in staff numbers for UK SMEs

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Many UK small businesses are taking on more staff (image credit: iStock/DragonImages)

New official data published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has highlighted the significant increase in recruitment that has taken place among the nation's small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) during recent months.

According to the government department's Small Business Survey 2015, almost one quarter (24 per cent) of UK SMEs witnessed an upturn in staff numbers last year in comparison to 2014.

Overall, the survey showed that just one in ten SMEs had downsized last year - a significant improvement from the figure of 21 per cent, which was recorded in the previous 12 months.

Responding to the impressive results, small business minister Anna Soubry said: "This survey shines a light on the small businesses that drive our economy and employ millions of people across the country - and it's good news that small firms continue to employ more people.

"A strong economy underpins the success of our small businesses which is why this government continues to take the difficult decisions needed to keep our economy and businesses strong."

Other important insights that were gleaned from the research include the fact that the issue of late payment continues to be a major headache for 30 per cent of the nation's small businesses, although access to finance in general for these firms has improved.

Indeed, 81 per cent of SMEs that applied for loans and other financial support during 2015 were able to secure of all the investment that they had asked for.

It marks a significant step forward in confidence for the UK's small business operators, with more than three quarters of all respondents to the survey stating that they turned a profit in 2015.

At the same time, half of respondents said that they now have plans in place to increase their sales and financial performance during the next three years, while one in ten UK SMEs are now exporting goods and services to foreign markets.

This final statistic is particularly important, as the rising levels of confidence that are being delivered as a result of the UK's ongoing economic recovery mean that more firms are hoping to expand into overseas markets - a decision that could have far-reaching positive benefits for the nation's overall prosperity in the years ahead.