Britain's small businesses grew solidly over the last three months, according to the latest small business index from the Federation of Small Business.
A “robust” improvement in confidence pushed up productivity, job creation and investment at a faster rate than in the economy as a whole.
Both investment and growth hit their highest levels since the index was introduced in 2010, and are set to continue increasing for the rest of 2015.
Nearly two thirds of businesses said they were hoping to grow moderately or rapidly over the next three months. This was the best response ever recorded by the index since it began in 2010.
The gains were not spread evenly over the UK, however – by far the highest concentration of growing small business were found in the South East of England, followed by the Midlands.
In both Scotland and Wales confidence declined, despite the overall upward trend. In Wales the number of people employed by small businesses also fell.