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Government puts small firms under the spotlight

A new survey by the Government has polled the views of 15,000 SMEs; and the same businesses will now be questioned every year to provide a snapshot of the health of the UK's small business sector.

This year's headline results include the fact that small businesses have been taking on more staff in the past year. The results show that 24% of SME employers had more people working for them in 2015 than in 2014. Only one in ten reported a reduction in staff numbers, down from around one in five (21%) in 2010.

The Small Business Survey 2015 is based on the views of more than 15,000 SMEs. From this year, the survey will track the same businesses to better understand their needs over time.

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."

The survey also assessed internet usage by SMEs. While 95% of the firms polled reported that they use the internet for work, the findings show that 24% of firms still do not have a website and 45% do not have a social media profile.

These results come as the Government launches a call for evidence into the barriers businesses face when accessing superfast broadband as part of the business broadband review.

The survey also found that 81% of smaller businesses that applied for finance secured all or some of what they asked for, suggesting continued improvement in the access to finance landscape. Bank overdrafts were the most commonly sought type of finance, while peer-to-peer lending and crowd-funding accounted for 5% of funding.

The findings also show that more than three-quarters of the smallest firms - those with no employees - made a profit in the previous year; and one in ten of them sold products and services overseas.

Full results of the Small Business Survey 2015 can be found on the Government website.

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