A quarter of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, around 1.35 million businesses, expect to expand over the next 12 months, according to Close Brothers Asset Finance.The quarterly survey of UK SME owners and senior management from a range of sectors also revealed that a fifth (20%) of SMEs believe their business is prospering in the current economy. And when describing their current economic outlook, over half (54%) of SMEs believe the worst is behind them and that they are confident about the steady recovery of the economy.

Mike Randall, CEO of Close Brothers Asset Finance said: “With the UK economy continuing to strengthen, it is encouraging to see that a significant number of business leaders in small and medium sized enterprises are expecting to see their business expand throughout 2016. It shows a real belief in the market and the future of their business.”

The results also found that nearly a third (29%) of SMEs in the UK are planning to seek funding for business investment in the next 12 months, with nearly a third (30%) of these businesses hoping to borrow up to £100,000 and a further fifth (18%) planning to apply for funding of more than £100,000.

Despite this, the study also showed that more than one in ten (13%) of SMEs have missed a business opportunity in the last 12 months, due to lack of available finance, with just under half (48%) of these SMEs missing multiple opportunities.

Mr Randall added: "Our study clearly shows that investment will be key to a lot of companies in 2016, and we know from our experience in the market that many of these will be using the funding to grow their businesses.

"With this in mind, it is vital businesses understand what assets or finance are required at all times. This is to ensure no business opportunities are missed and that they successfully manage the future needs of the business. We would urged any business owners planning to apply for investment in the New Year to ensure that they regularly assess their plans and evaluate all of the financial options available to help them find the most appropriate solution to fit their business needs."