FSB: 45% of small firms expect growth this yearA record low number of small business are expecting to grow over the next 12 months, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), with just 45% saying they are likely to see expansion in the coming year. The FSB’s quarterly confidence index measure, which is based on a survey of 982 companies, stood at -8.8 in Q2, with this down 22 points on a year ago and marking the fourth consecutive negative reading. The poll saw 72% of small firms say that the cost of running their business was increasing, with 48% identifying labour costs as the main reason and 34% saying regulation. It was also shown that 42% saw profits dip in Q2. Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB, looks at the climate for SMEs in the Telegraph, pointing to a “regulatory offensive that accompanied the start of the current tax year.” He highlights Making Tax Digital, the requirement for firms to submit quarterly online VAT returns via HMRC-approved software. Mr Cherry urges the next Prime Minister to “remember that giving small businesses the freedom to compete is no game,” adding that it is “key to keeping our economy on track”.