By Daniel Hunter

Small business in the UK are hoping they will be boosted by a rise in consumer demand in 2015, but fear an increase in gas and oil price rises may hinder their growth.

This is according to new research from Barclays, which polled decision makers of UK SMEs on the impact of a series of factors on their business growth in 2015. The research also looks at the net scores of UK SMEs who reveal the elements they believe will have a positive or negative impact on their business growth in 2015.

SMEs will count on consumer demand to have the most positive impact on their business growth in 2015, with an overall net score of 47%.

The other key factors that will have a net positive impact on small business growth in 2015 are the availability of better technology (37%), the trend towards online business and having a digital presence (26%), opportunities for business overseas (24%) and new payment technology (16%).

Rebecca McNeil, Head of SME Lending and Enterprise at Barclays, said: “2014 has been the strongest year for small business growth since the recession and with consumer confidence increasing slowly, small businesses will no doubt welcome the growth prospects that 2015 has in store. Our research helps us to identify the support they will need when faced with opportunities and challenges next year.”

The poll also asked small businesses about the factors they believe will inhibit business growth in 2015. Gas and oil price increases are the top concern for the year ahead, with a net score of -30%. Small business decision makers are also worried about the impact of extreme weather events (-29%), following the severe floods that hit the country at the start of 2014.

The research went on to ask small businesses for views on a range of economic factors and how they would affect growth prospects in 2015. Small businesses are more optimistic about the impact of their local economy (12%) than the state of the UK economy (5%), however there are concerns on global economic outlook and its impact on growth, which was a negative factor for businesses on average (-2%).

Ms McNeil added: “We know that access to funding is a key driver in boosting businesses’ confidence, enabling them to build on and realise their growth potential. And just like businesses, funding can come in a variety of shapes and forms, from loans, to mortgages and overdrafts — and all of these can come from a variety of sources, such as banks as well as alternative sources of finance."

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