The latest figures from the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) Health Check Index has shown positive signs of improvement, with business confidence increasing.

Figures have recovered from the second quarter of 2019, with the report by Virgin Money UK indicating that the Index rose to 49, with an increase of 7.5 points.

The index measures a number of factors in the business landscape, such as GDP, employment, revenue, lending, confidence, net business creation, capacity and business costs.

There were increases in nine of the 11 regions covered by the Health Check Index, with the increase in score representing a rise in economic activity, while a slowing of the rate of inflation and a decline in the cost of commercial rents has also contributed.

The report also explored the impact that late payments have on SMEs, with three-quarters stating that they have experienced late payments from customers in the last 12 months.

Additionally, the figures indicated that 13 per cent of all payments received by small businesses were late last year, with the knock-on effect being that 88 per cent have paid a supplier late because of receiving a late payment from a customer.

Gavin Opperman, Group Customer Banking Director at Virgin Money UK, said: “The Q3 SME Health Check results show cause for optimism. After a challenging start to the year, UK SMEs are showing definite signs of recovery.

“There are undoubtedly challenges to navigate, and political uncertainty remains a thorn in our economy’s side.”

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