December 20 2013.

Commenting on the highs and lows for small businesses in 2013, Phil Orford MBE, chief executive at the Forum of Private Business, said: “On the positive side, news that the economy is slowly picking up has been welcome along with a higher proportion of UK exports now being outside the troubled Eurozone. The removal of strict liability for employers was a welcome government move on the health and safety front, while Start-Up Loans have been a welcome arrival in providing much needed boost for news businesses.

“On the downside, we have continued to see sizeable additions to the already significant regulatory burdens placed on small business owners. Real Time Information and pensions auto-enrolment will only continue to add to small firms’ compliance costs in what remains a challenging time for many.

“On the finance front revelations on banking issues have done little to restore businesses faith in lenders. Also SME lending figures remain disappointing, despite efforts by the Bank of England through Funding for Lending. Late payment still remains an issue for many small firms and while figures may appear to be down, this is partly because more firms are extending payment times.”

On 2014:
“Looking forward to 2014 the extension to parental leave and flexible working proposals and auto enrolment start dates will add to the regulatory burden for small businesses.

"We will hopefully see an improving picture for small business finance with the shift in focus of Funding for Lending supported by the new Business Bank.

“Business confidence will remain the key driver for the Labour market. Hopefully continued positive sentiment will translate into job creation, particularly in the private sector that has created three jobs for every one lost in the public sector. The cost of doing business will continue to be a major challenge for small businesses. Politicians must not lose sight of the fact that it is inextricably linked with their preoccupation with the cost of living and that costs should not be pushed onto businesses in their efforts to drive down household bills.”