BUSINESS confidence remains low but there are some positive economic signs for the year ahead, according to the Federation of Small Businesses.
National chairman John Walker said that 2012 had proved tough, but suggested the picture for the coming months was a little brighter than it had been in recent years.

But he criticised the banking industry for pushing many businesses to the wall through mis-selling financial products and warned that it must work hard to rebuild trust with small firms.

In his New Year message, he also told the Government that his members are facing a "huge compliance burden" under changes being introduced in April which will force all companies to report payroll information in real time.

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Mr Walker said: "Confidence is still low, with many concerned about lack of demand and wider economic issues, but our members are heading into 2013 with more confidence than they did going into either 2011 or 2012.

"This is a move in the right direction and something the Government must build on."

Mr Walker said banks are still failing to provide the finance companies need, with less than 10 per cent of small businesses reporting easy access to the credit they need.

He added the organisation had also tried to work with banks and the Financial Services Authority to find a way to resolve the mis-selling of financial products "scandal."

He said: "The move to make small firms report their payroll in real time will place a huge compliance burden on the smallest firms. Indeed, many will have to buy new software to deal with it.

"The new year must see a big step-up in the communications campaign to make businesses aware of the new rules. We will continue to work with HMRC to make sure this message is communicated to small firms."