A business leader has welcomed a report today showing confidence among small businesses has increased to the highest level in three years.

The Federation for Small Businesses (FSB) said a survey of 2,400 firms showed more expected to hire staff over the coming months – a situation the chairman of Bradford Chamber of Trade Val Summerscales described as “encouraging”.

The study comes a week after the T&A’s Foundation for Jobs campaign was mounted, with the aim of bringing the issue of unemployment – and, more importantly, employment – to the fore by working with key industry, private sector and public sector organisations and individuals to find ways to create new hope for the future.

Mrs Summerscales said: “I’ve not heard anything from small businesses in particular, but there is a general feeling that things are looking up a bit and businesses are able to take on staff.

“A lot of our members are very small businesses and, if this is the case that they are feeling more positive, it’s encouraging. Small businesses are the marker really. If they are feeling positive and can create jobs that is good.

“Sometimes larger businesses can make do with fewer staff and may not recruit, but small businesses recruit the amount of people they need.”

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council’s member for skills and employment, said such firms were a “real engine for growth in our economy”. She said: “They are the backbone of the country. About 53 per cent of people are employed by small or medium businesses and they account for around 99 per cent of businesses. We need them to prosper.”

The study by the FSB found financial services firms were the most optimistic, while conditions also seemed to be improving in manufacturing.

But the body urged Chancellor George Osborne to build on the growth in confidence by announcing initiatives to boost business in his Spending Review later this month.

The T&A Foundation for Jobs aims to give young people a more positive outlook by encouraging the creation of more jobs, apprenticeships, and internships, making access to employment opportunities easier for both companies and job seekers and highlighting the good work being done across the district to tackle the rising tide of youth unemployment.

We are making it simpler and more cost-effective for firms to advertise their jobs to the right candidates, and to help job-hunters put themselves in front of potential employers.

We will be publishing local Job Centre vacancies for free, offering free lineage advertisements for job-hunters to market themselves to potential hirers and offering special rates to firms to encourage them to shout about their job vacancies.