By Daniel Hunter

The majority of small businesses in the North West are confident that 2015 will be a good year for business and the UK economy, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Manchester and North Cheshire.

When asked 'how confident are you that the UK economy is on the mend?’, 41% said they were "quite confident", with another 3% indicating "very confident". A further 29% said they had a "neutral" outlook, while 26% said they were "not confident". Just 3.5% were "expecting a bad year".

The survey also asked businesses if they would be recruiting more staff at some point in the year. Six percent indicated "highly likely", and a further 21% said this was "likely". However, 31% were still "unsure", and 24% said "unlikely". In total 18% said "highly unlikely".

The FSB’s Regional Chairman, Simon Edmondson, said the survey results should be seen as encouraging. “Bearing in mind the mood of small business this time last year, this is encouraging data,” he said.

“Almost half of those polled appear confident that the UK economy will do well in 2015, and more than a quarter expect to recruit new staff. This is great news for employment in the region, and suggests many small businesses are no longer in bunker down mode and are looking to grow.

“If we look back just 12 months there was still a big question mark over how the UK economy was performing, and many businesses still felt in the doldrums. It seems a lot has changed in a year, including the mood of many small businesses. We should see this as a positive indicator for the economy, but we need this momentum to be sustained."

He added: “2015 is going to be a key year for the banks to get their acts together and make sure businesses who are looking to grow have the finance available to do so. We know the lack of affordable finance has pegged the recovery in previous years, but now as confidence returns hopefully credit might start to flow that bit easier.”

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