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Business groups divided over parental leave rights

Changes to the leave rights of parents with newly-born children have been described as "burdens on struggling employers" by the Institute of Directors.

The proposed system is considerably more complex and unwieldy than the current laws and employers will - once again - have to absorb the cost of adapting and implementing this new system.

– Alexander Ehmann, IoD deputy director of policy

But the Confederation of British Industry, the Federation of Small Businesses and the British Chambers of Commerce all said they were pleased that the Government had listened to firms' concerns.

This response appears to offer pragmatic solutions, such as restricting the number of requests or changes to leave to a maximum of three, as this will limit potential disruption for smaller firms.

– John Wastnage, BCC employment adviser

FSB: Optimism up in the south, down in north east

According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) their confidence index report found:

  • While optimism had picked up across nearly the whole of the UK, London was far more up beat than other regions. The capital came in at 46%, while there were much lower levels of confidence in northern regions.
  • Confidence in the north east decreased.
  • FSB members reported that inflationary pressures have eased as just over 60% said that the cost of doing business had increased in the quarter, below the peak in late 2011 of 75% and below the last three quarters.
  • Firms are also seeing cheaper finance but there has been little year-on-year movement in the percentage of companies applying for credit.


Govt should have 'confidence' in economic policies

The Government should have "further confidence" in its economic policies after the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) published its "most positive report" for some time, said the group's Chairman.

Optimism, growth and confidence can be used to summarise this quarter's findings. Small firms are clearly helping the economy gain momentum compared to the same point last year.

This is the most positive report that the FSB has published for some time and gives further confidence to policymakers and the Government that steady growth is back on the agenda.

This now needs to be fostered and the Autumn Statement later this year should be the ideal vehicle to do this.

– Chairman of the Federation of Small Business John Allan

Small businesses hiring 'for first time in three years'

Small businesses have created new jobs for the first time since 2010, the Federation of Small Businesses has found. Credit: PA

Another sign of optimism in the economy has sprung up - jobs are being created by small businesses for the first time in three years, says a leading industry organisation.

More firms are looking to employ new staff rather than reduce their workforce, an annual report into small business operations found.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found its confidence index had doubled its second quarter score and rose to 33.5, representing the third successive quarter of growth.

Financial and business services, as well as technology firms, reported the highest levels of confidence, although those in the leisure and entertainment sectors were less optimistic as household spending power remains squeezed.

FSB: Osborne has 'pulled out all the stops'

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said Chancellor George Osborne has "pulled out all the stops" with a "wide-ranging package" of measures to support small businesses.

National chairman of the FSB John Walker said, "The housing initiative will help reinvigorate the construction sector in which many of our members operate".

"National Insurance cut goes beyond what we were asking for and we are pleased to see the scrapping of the 3p fuel duty due in September", he added.