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London SME businesses lead the UK in confidence for 2015

By CreditMan Monday, January 19, 2015

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in London lead the rest of the UK when it comes to confidence in the year ahead. According to new research commissioned by npower, SMEs in the capital are most confident that they will enjoy increases to business turnover and the best access to skilled employees, while workers in London have the best chance of an inflation-busting salary rise.

The findings come from new research commissioned by npower, which found that more than three in five (61%) businesses in the capital said that they expect to see an increase in business turnover, compared with an average of 50% across the sectors surveyed. London also leads the overall expectations of salary growth, with 60% expecting wages to rise for full-time employees, while one in six (17%) say that wages will outstrip inflation*.

London's SMEs were also the most likely to predict an increase in staff headcount (38%) almost double the national figure of 21%. Furthermore, firms in the capital were the most confident when it comes to recruiting people with the right skills – 64% compared with only 46% across those surveyed, assuming they were able to pay market rate or above – supporting London's reputation as a pool of some of the best talent in the UK.

However the research found that SMEs in London were the most likely to worry about high energy costs (38%). London SMEs also cited a lack of support from local councils as an obstacle to SME business success across Britain in the next year (23%). When asked what the government could do to bring better business value in 2015, one quarter (25%) said they would welcome measures to increase bank lending.

Jason Scagell, Director of npower Business, said: “London is widely seen as the powerhouse and bellwether of the wider UK economy, so the confidence shown by SMEs in the capital is encouraging for the country as a whole. Nevertheless, London businesses do face a unique set of pressures such as the cost of doing business in the capital. Long-overdue changes to business rates announced in the Autumn Statement are certainly going to be welcomed by the large majority of London SMEs, but our research shows that they are also calling for further measures, such as increasing the amounts that banks lend to smaller businesses. While the City naturally gets the lion's share of attention when it comes to business, SMEs are the lifeblood of economic activity across the whole London region. It's obviously vital that they get the support they need to develop and grow.”