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Business groups issue New Year message

As 2012 gets underway, the UK’s leading business groups have called for a number of measures to help support small businesses and boost the economy in the coming months.

Recognising the difficulties faced by businesses in 2011, and predicting further challenges for the year ahead, the Forum of Private Business highlighted the ongoing problems of late payment, accessing affordable credit and rising business costs.

Phil Orford, FPB Chief Executive, said, ‘Clearly 2012 will again be challenging. If a ‘double dip’ recession is to be avoided we must create the conditions necessary to fuel small business growth’.

‘Confidence is low but, despite the difficulties they face, there is some optimism among small business owners. More than a quarter of our members surveyed recently plan to grow in the next six months.’

Meanwhile, the Confederation of British Industry called for the UK to ‘power up’ and begin rebalancing its economy. CBI Director-General John Cridland commented, ‘2012 is going to be a hard road but if we are canny and act now to put in place solid economic foundations, we will be stronger and secure a better future for ourselves and our families’.

The CBI’s ‘vision for rebalancing’ calls for the UK economy to become ‘more driven by investment and exports’, while allowing ‘the burdens of both government and consumer debt to subside’.

While acknowledging that 2012 is likely to be another tough year for small firms, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) highlighted the ‘golden opportunities’ available to small businesses in the year ahead, with the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee offering the chance for businesses to expand and diversify, and a likely fall in inflation set to have a positive effect on small business overheads and consumer confidence.

However, the organisation urged the Government to do more to help small businesses, including amending the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme, tackling the dominance of the big banks and improving access to Government procurement contracts.