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Small businesses and start-ups call on UK government for leg-up

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The U.K.'s small businesses and start-ups need the government to boost jobs and long-term growth in the forthcoming spring Budget, the Federation of Small Businesses has urged the finance secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond.

Acknowledging that small business confidence had bounced back to levels seen before the U.K. decided to leave the European Union, small firms were still seeing their growth prospects falling, the FSB said Monday.

They were facing a "triple hit", according to the FSB: a continuing increase in the national living wage; a rise in national insurance contributions; and a hike in pensions auto-enrolment. Companies could be saddled with £2,600 ($3,241) in extra employment costs, the FSB said.

"Spring Budget 2017 is a critical moment for the government to show it is unashamedly pro-business, and that the Chancellor recognises that small businesses are the engines of job creation," Mike Cherry, the FSB's national chairman, said in a statement.

"Spiralling labour costs are now threatening their growth ambitions and hiring intentions," Cherry added.

The FSB said that since the turn of the century, the number of people working for themselves had reached 4.8 million, an increase of 40 percent. The stakes, Cherry said, were high.

"FSB was established to champion the interests of the self-employed," he said. "At Spring Budget 2017, our entrepreneurial culture is on the line. The Government's announcements on self-employment will be the litmus test for how pro-business it is going to be for the rest of this Parliament."

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