Responding to news that CPI rose by 3.2% in the year to March 2024, down from 3.4% in February, Tina McKenzie, Policy Chair, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said: “March’s fall in the annual consumer price inflation rate takes some more of the heat out of rising prices for small businesses. It’s difficult to overstate the toll that the cost of doing business crisis exacted on small firms, so further signs that its worst effects are firmly behind us are very welcome.

“Small business owners know all too well that they can never be complacent, especially in an economic situation characterised by sluggish growth and rising unemployment. However, there are some early indications that small business confidence levels are recovering, which – if it translates into investment and expansion plans being put into action by small firms – is good news for our economic growth prospects.

“Small firms will now turn their eyes and their hopes to the Bank of England, and will hope that the base rate cut many have been eagerly awaiting arrives sooner rather than later. We don’t want to risk stifling the small upward movement in GDP recorded in the first two months of this year.

“We’re calling again for the Government and for politicians of all stripes to think very hard about how they can best support small business growth, to provide the best possible platform for entrepreneurs to start up new ventures, and for existing businesses to expand and thrive.

“Small business owners will be watching carefully to see what is being proposed to help them in this election year. Policies which are targeted at helping small businesses to grow, take on staff, and innovate are needed, so that green shoots can take root and flourish.”