Jobbing Umbrella Company Employees with an eye to future work assignments will be heartened to hear that SMEs in the UK plan to create 450,000 new jobs in the coming year.

This is one of the top-line findings from the latest SME Capex Barometer from GE Capital, which polled SMEs in Q3 across four European economies: the UK, Germany, France and Italy. The report suggests that a majority of UK SMEs (65%) believe that they must invest in significant upgrades for existing equipment in order to boost efficiency.

More than any of the other markets analysed in the report, UK businesses report that they are losing income as a direct result of inefficient or outdated equipment. There was a 51% rise in the number of UK firms citing this reason for underperformance, compared to a 16% rise in Germany. In Italy and France, by contrast, there were falls of 8% and 23% respectively.

Aggregating the data for all four economies, 47% of the planned capital expenditure will be allocated to manufacturing in Q1 2013, while 34% will go to IT hardware upgrades. Given that UK SMEs are less confident in Q3 that they were in Q1 (confidence fell by 15 points to -20), it may well be that a significant number of them will turn to contractor solutions in preference to hiring permanent employees.

GE Capital’s CEO John Jenkins welcomed the findings, stating: “After a period of under-investment brought on by broader economic uncertainty, it’s good to see UK businesses once again looking to increase investment in capital expenditure and creating new jobs.”

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