Page last updated at 10:58 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

Small firms 'take long Christmas'

The festive break will be longer than usual for many small firms

More small firms are planning to take an extended Christmas break than at any time in 16 years, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has said.

From a survey of its members, the FSB estimates that 10% or 500,000 are planning to close for two weeks over the festive period.

The FSB says the main motivation for the move is to save money.

FSB official Stephen Alambritis said the firms were following the decisions of carmakers such as Land Rover.

'Reduced bills'

"By closing down for the full two weeks, small firms are looking to save a bit of cash though reduced electricity and fuel bills," he said.

"Obviously small retailers won't be closing, but small manufacturers and self-employed workers such as electricians and plumbers, will be downing tools."

The banking industry recently revised its guidelines for dealing with small firms to try to help them through the economic downturn.

Under the changes, banks will have to be more proactive in contacting firms they think might be in trouble.

The government also announced new measures to help small firms in the pre-Budget report, including the ability to spread tax bills, and increased access to loans.

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