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SMEs have reasons to be cheerful in 2015

The manufacturing and services sectors are growing; the number of firms that are recruiting is at an all-time high; and businesses are well-placed to grow in 2015.

These are the findings of the British Chambers of Commerce Q4 Quarterly Economic Survey, which polled almost 7,000 UK businesses.

Director general John Longworth said: “With employment and investment intentions at historically high levels, businesses are gearing up for a big year in 2015. It is now vitally important that firms are able to convert their growth ambitions into reality.”

However, he warned that “political point scoring” in this election year must not get in the way of “sound economic policy”.

The survey findings suggest there was a definite bounce back at the end of 2014 for British businesses. The manufacturing sector recorded increases in the balances for domestic sales (+36%, up from +23% in Q3); export sales (+26%, up from +16% in Q3); recruitment intentions (+85%, up from +73% in Q3); and turnover confidence (+62%, up from +60% in Q3).

In addition, an all-time high number of businesses have set out to recruit staff in the past three months, in both manufacturing (+36%, compared to +32% in Q3) and services (+32%, up from +28% in Q3).

John Longworth said: “The UK’s economic recovery still faces several obstacles, intensified by the uncertainty of the upcoming general election. Businesses are bouncing back, but their optimism may not last if political point scoring outweighs sound economic policies.”

He continued: “If current and future governments do the right things, there is no reason why the UK should not enjoy sustainable growth driven by re-energised and dynamic businesses.”

He added: “Strengthening our business finance system, which constrains the growth aspirations of too many firms, will remain a decisive factor in securing a sustainable recovery. Low interest rates and reduced regulation will also go a long way to creating an environment that encourages enterprise and wealth creation.”

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