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As the cost of hiring staff continues to rise, small business owners are having to sacrifice more of their own holiday time to keep their business running, according to research by Opinium.

Over 470,000 small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners will be working everyday over the Christmas holidays without a single day off, as a survey revealed 34% of small business owners say they can’t afford to take the time off.

The survey, commissioned by Bizdaq, also found a further 17% of owners are unable to take time off as they do not have enough staff to cover this period.

The cost of finding, training and employing staff is holding back 2.3 million small business owners from hiring additional staff. Additionally the National Minimum Wage and the Living Wage was cited as a growing reason for not being able to hire employees.

Sean Mallon, CEO of Bizdaq, said “It is clear that small business owners are still being let down by successive governments. The hard work and effort put into running and building small businesses is not reflected in the government’s attitude towards them, despite employing over 14.7m across the UK.

“There have been many initiatives created with much noise, however the delivery has often been poor at best.”

Apprenticeships still underutilised by small businesses; despite the high numbers of small business owners stating that they can’t afford to take on new employees, only 14% are planning to take on an apprentice in 2017. This is alarming considering the incentives and benefits for businesses hiring an apprentice.

Mr. Mallon added: “The apprenticeship scheme as an example is a great idea, however many small business owners still have very little knowledge or access to this, as evidenced by our report finding that only 14% of small business owners plan on taking on an apprentice next year.”

However, Christmas isn’t the only time that small business owners are having trouble taking time off, as over a third of small business owners (34%) have only taken 10 or fewer days of holiday in 2016. The average amount of holiday days taken was 17, which is still over two weeks below the entitlement for an average full-time UK worker.

Mr. Mallon said: “To see that over 60% of small business owners won’t get a break over Christmas goes to show the dedication and passion they possess, and with 43% citing high taxes as a reason contributing towards having to work such long hours is very disappointing.”