According to new government research published recently shows that almost a quarter (24%) of small and medium-sized (SME) employers had more people working for them in 2015 than in 2014.
The Small Business Survey 2015 is based on the views of more than 15,000 SMEs. Starting from this year, the survey will track the same businesses over time to better understand their needs as they grow and develop.
Only 1 in 10 reported a reduction in staff numbers, which is down from around 1 in 5 (21%) in 2010.
Small Business Minister Anna Soubry said:
This survey shines a light on the small businesses that drive our economy and employ millions of people across the country - and its good news that small firms continue to employ more people.
A strong economy underpins the success of our small businesses which is why this government continues to take the difficult decisions needed to keep our economy and businesses strong.
The survey also asked SMEs about their internet usage and found that 95% of employers use the internet for work, 76% have their own website, and 55% have a social media profile.
These results come as the government launches a call for evidence into the barriers businesses face when accessing superfast broadband, which can transform the way modern businesses work together, reach their consumers and target their export markets. This will feed into the wide-ranging business broadband review led jointly by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)and Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), announced in February 2016 by the Business Secretary.
The survey also shows 8 out of 10 (81%) smaller businesses which applied for finance secured all or some of what they asked for, echoing other recent studies that show the continuing improvement in the access to finance landscape. Bank overdrafts were the most commonly sought type of finance, while peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding made up 5%.
Late payment continues to be a problem for almost a third (30%) of SME employers. The government is taking forward a number of measures to tackle this, by establishing a Small Business Commissioner through the Enterprise Act.
While the proportion of businesses experiencing higher turnover is similar to that found in the 2014 survey, medium-sized businesses are actually 3% more likely to report higher turnover than last year.