The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has said that next week’s Budget should include help for small firms to take on staff.

New figures from the FSB suggest small businesses are looking to employ in the coming months as confidence picks up.

Figures from the FSB’s ‘Voice of Small Business’ Index shows a net balance of 8.1 per cent of small firms laid off staff in the three months to February – the highest figure since the survey began, in some cases partly due to rises in wages eating into 28.2 per cent of firms margins.

However, as small business confidence improved, many firms anticipate a slight increase in sales in the coming months. And nearly a third (27.4%) of small firms want to increase their investment plans which will also help to create new jobs – a net balance of 1.2 per cent of small firms is looking to take on new workers in the next three months, the highest level since Q2 2010.

The FSB is calling on the Government to help small firms take on staff in the Budget later this month by putting measures in place, such as increasing the National Minimum Wage for apprentices to £123 per week, ensuring Work Trials are made available to all suitable candidates on demand with no complicated qualifying criteria and introducing fees for the majority of claimants at Employment Tribunals to reduce the number of serial claimants and speculative claims.

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“Small firms have been resilient in difficult economic times and, after a period of reducing staff levels, it is good news that the outlook is improving and that for the first time since 2010, they are looking to take on staff.

“In the Budget, the Chancellor has an opportunity to build on and instil this emerging optimism by helping to create jobs and help those that want to, go it alone. For example, he can bring forward reforms to Employment Tribunals, including fees to discourage vexatious claims.”