Good news for small businesses as Federation of Small Businesses publishes highest confidence figures

(Federation of Small Businesses)

The Federation of Small Businesses today released unprecedentedly optimistic figures for the UK's small businesses. (Release)

The small business index rose to +33.5 in the third quarter of 2013, up from +15.9 in the previous quarter and -4.5 year-on-year. This beat previous highs of 18 back in the first quarter of 2010.

54.2 per cent of small businesses are, the Federation of Small Business says, "raising their aims" and aspiring to grow over the next year. This is up from 50.6 per cent for the same period last year.

The FSB has said in its executive summary:

In line with this surge in confidence, businesses are more optimistic about turnover growth for the coming three months and on average now expect profits to return to positive growth.

Higher business activity means spare capacity is expected to lessen over the next quarter to the lowest levels since comparable data started.

More small businesses are looking to invest, both in terms of capital and staff, with access and affordability of capital continuing to ease. However, the FSB stresses that, despite credit becoming cheaper, many small businesses are reticent when it comes to making use of external resources and finances.

Confidence is, however, re-emphasising a North-South divide, with London and the south east and west demonstrating the highest levels of optimism.