WE’RE talking to businesses all the time and there’s no doubt business confidence is returning.

Most businesses tell us things are looking good and both sales and profits are generally up; many are reporting their best year for some time.

The Bank of England and British Chambers of Commerce are reporting recovery in just about all sectors and we seem to have turned the corner.

However there is still some way to go; public spending will remain tight, cashflow and access to finance is still an issue for many and we need to fight the corner for small and medium sized businesses.

Whilst unemployment is falling, youth unemployment is a major problem with almost one million young people classed as not in education, employment or training (NEET) and we still need to do far more to encourage employers to train and develop their staff. As consumers we still face rising food and energy costs and living standards have been massively squeezed over the last few years. And you only need to walk down the high street to see the legacy of the recession.

In the run-up towards the budget we have been vocal in calling for measures to support growth for small and medium sized businesses. At a national level, the British Chambers of Commerce, to whom we are accredited, have also been pushing the Chancellor on measures to support growth and this has had an impact in Parliament. We felt the budget was positive and were particularly pleased to see the measures to help drive international trade.

As the county chamber, we have a key role in campaigning and engaging businesses on key issues. As well as the budget, we are actively pushing on key issues such as rural broadband and business support at a local level.

Our view is that whilst we are on the road to recovery, there is still some way to go and the environment is still fragile for many businesses.

We will certainly keep pushing hard at a local level and do all we can to support our Dorset business community.