Small businesses bask in recovery as confidence surges to 25-year high

CBI boost for Vince Cable ahead of visit to Russia to launch $50m export fund

Confidence levels among small businesses is rising at the fastest pace in 25 years, in the clearest sign that the economic recovery is not just helping the country’s biggest firms, according to the Confederation of British Industry.

The boost in confidence comes as Business Secretary Vince Cable arrived in Russia on a trade mission to increase exports to the country as part of the Government’s plans to lift exports to £1trn by 2020.

In the three months to October, the CBI found that optimism among small companies in the sector rose to 35 in the quarter, up from 9 in the three months to July – the fastest rise since records started in 1988. This time last year the index was as low as -12.

The business lobby group also found that the number of firms willing to spend more on buildings was up 5 per cent, while 11 per cent more wanted to invest in plants and machinery. Around 15 per cent more SMEs believe output will rise in the next three months.

Stephen Gifford, the CBI director of economics explained: “Optimism about the general business situation has improved and is now at a record high, and there is evidence of a general thaw in investment intentions for the year ahead.”

The confidence was driven by domestic orders from manufacturers, which rose at their fastest rates since January 1995, and follows on from the Office for National Statistics’ data which found that GDP grew 0.8 per cent between July and September. Manufacturing grew 0.9 per cent and construction by 2.5 per cent

Meanwhile, a survey by Barclays of 500 small firms also suggests many have more scope to boost their exports than they realise. It found that four in five small firms that had expanded overseas found the experience as they hoped or easier than they expected.

Almost half said that they wish they had started exported sooner and that what had been holding them back was a psychological, rather than a practical, barrier.

The positive trends come as Vince Cable took 31 small businesses with him to Russia where he will reveal that exports of goods and services to Russia have grown by more than 75 per cent from £4.3bn to £7.6bn.

Russia is the fourth largest export market for the UK, after the US, China and EU.

During the trip he will launch a new $50m (£31m) fund to help small businesses export to Russia after the CBI found that total UK export orders rose at their fastest rate since April 2011.

He said: “British small and medium sized businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. Many are doing incredible things and selling their services and products abroad. But too many do not realise their global potential.

“Unlike China or India, Russia does not manufacture a great deal, so there are real opportunities for UK firms to export there, particularly with the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi next year and the 2018 World Cup.”

However, despite the registered improvement in sentiment picked up by the CBI, most small firms are still not securing lending from banks.

According to the most recent Bank of England figures, lending to SMEs fell by another £400m in September.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

Chief Financial Officer

120-150k: Accountancy Action: We are looking for an experienced CFO from a min...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?