Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could be the driving force for an economic recovery in the UK over the coming months, it has been argued, opines Tim Hill. Lucy Armstrong, chair of the Confederation for British Industry (CBI) SME council, said there should be grounds for optimism in regard to this group having the strength and wherewithal to help drag the economy back into recovery.
"It's all well and good focusing on big businesses and big multinationals, but actually it's small, private and family businesses around the UK ... that employ people," she noted.
Indeed, ensuring SMEs continue to invest in the future of local communities is key to getting the country back on a positive economic footing, as many firms have been hoarding cash in recent years and it is now important that these funds are reinvested in ways that deliver long-term growth for the UK economy.
Armstrong argued: "They punch well above their weight in terms of the number of people they employ, they produce more taxes per pound of turnover than either their big brothers or their tiny micro brothers, so they are the businesses we should be focussing on."
Indeed, politicians and economists should therefore be championing the country's SMEs, as it is this group which can deliver the greatest returns in terms of job creation and community support at a time when many areas of the UK are really suffering.
Her comments follow data published by the Office for National Statistics, which revealed that the third quarter of last year saw a 4.3 per cent year-on-year rise in business investment. Overall, outlay for UK firms rose by 0.3 per cent on the previous three months to £30.1 billion.
The figures showed the UK's manufacturing industry performed particularly strongly over the three-month period, with a six per cent increase on the previous quarter.