Small businesses want to create almost 500,000 new jobs in the UK, a study reveals

Small businesses want to create more than 500,000 new jobs, research suggests.

Small and medium-sized firms already employ around 13.8 million people in the UK, and a study by Funding Circle found that bosses want to increase recruitment levels by 546,480.

The survey indicates that many small firms are poised for growth, with one third (33%) of those queried saying that they would like to increase their staff numbers.

This equates to around 1.5 million small companies across the country, researchers said.

Meanwhile, almost the same number of firms (31%) said they would look to grow their business more generally if there was enough money available.

Firms which wanted to hire more workers said they would seek to increase staff levels by an average of 12%, according to the study.

The findings were published in Funding Circle's first quarterly Funding for Growth report. The group, which surveyed 500 small firms, said more finance should now be made available to help these employers take on new staff.

Funding Circle runs a marketplace where people can lend money to businesses. Its study aimed to highlight what the benefits would be if banks and other lenders increased the amount of cash available for small firms.

The group warned that many of the UK's small firms could become so-called "caged tigers", unable to realise their growth ambitions, unless more business finance is made available.

Its study concluded that allowing small firms to take on more staff could unlock thousands of jobs and reduce unemployment. In turn, this could help cut the number of people who are out of work down to levels seen before the recession, the study suggests.

And Funding Circle said there would also be wider benefits to the economy if small firms could hire more staff.

Co-founder and chief marketing officer James Meekings said: "With the right support, these frustrated businesses could be the future drivers of our economy, with the ripples of job creation being felt throughout UK industry.

"Not only would the economy feel the direct impact of a boost in employment, but a quarter would also use finance to increase stock, supporting businesses throughout their supply chain."

Copyright Press Association 2012