AN EXTRA £4.27billion in revenue could be unlocked for the south’s economy if home businesses were able to grow and move to commercial premises, research suggests.

A report, Unlocking the UK’s Home Business Potential, found home businesses in the south could generate £922million more in profits.

That compares with £595m in London and £667m in the north of England.

The survey of 500 home-based businesses, from Vonage in partnership with the Centre for e conomics and Business Research (CEBR) and YouGov, found 20 per cent said the high cost of commercial office space was preventing them from growing.

Samantha Acton, founder of Southbourne-based domestic cleaning company Domestic Angels, found she could expand the business through franchising. The idea enabled the company to grow despite a shortage of commercial premises.

She said: “Before Domestic Angels, I had never thought about having a business of my own. It was a huge challenge – I had to learn a lot about everything from how employment law works to how to set up a customer-service business.”

The business has grown from a handful of clients in 2002 to one with 20 employees, supporting 138 clients and providing g more than 1,000 hours of services every month.

She added: “Before taking the decision to move to a franchise model, I was searching to find the right space that would allow flexibility to accommodate for peaks and dips in demand. It was surprisingly difficult to find affordable premises that allows for the unpredictable levels of revenue in the first few years of starting a business.”

Simon Burckhardt, managing director at Vonage UK, said: “Home businesses are an important driver of the economy in the south, but have the potential to grow further.

“The home businesses of today are the pipeline for tomorrow’s larger businesses, therefore it’s crucial to identify the challenges and obstacles preventing them from stepping up.

“More needs to be done to identify the challenges and obstacles preventing home businesses from stepping up, and importantly how the wider business community and government can better support them.“It is encouraging that home-based enterprises in the south are still enjoying strong growth at this critical juncture for the country as plans are put in place for our exit from the European Union.”