SMALL businesses will help to reduce unemployment, particularly in rural areas such as Huntingdonshire, as they lead the national economy out of recession, their leaders said this week. The comments from the Huntingdonshire chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, Malcolm Lyons, follow publication of the FSB's annual member survey, which shows that more than half of businesses have resisted the worst of the recession by innovating, creating new products and services. The FSB-ICM 'Voice of Small Business' Annual Survey 2009 reveals that 53 per cent of businesses introduced new or improved products and services last year, and 51 per cent intend to continue innovating next year, showing that small businesses are keen to grow and develop, despite the tough times. The FSB argues that small businesses are the solution to getting the UK out of recession in its election manifesto, 'Small Business, Big Vote: The Route to Recovery - FSB 2010 Election Manifesto', in which it claims that small businesses are innovators and job-creators, with more than 80 per cent of new jobs created by small businesses in the five years to 2007. "In our rural district, small businesses will certainly help to reduce unemployment," Mr Lyons said. "With half of businesses expecting to expand their client base and one in five intending to employ more staff in the coming year, this is no time to pull the support for this vibrant sector, which is at the heart of economic growth. "As the UK goes to the polls next year, public debt and unemployment will still be high, and the Government will have to make tough decisions to encourage recovery. The FSB-ICM 'Voice of Small Business' Survey 2009 shows that small businesses will clearly be at the heart of that recovery, and must be given all the support they need to get on with the job of growing the economy out of recession. "The FSB is calling for a renewed economic stimulus to help small businesses continue to create jobs, get access to crucial finance, innovate and start up new businesses, to get us squarely on the road to recovery." The federation is calling for a stimulus package that includes renewal of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee when it runs out in March; suspension of tax increases, including a freeze on employers' National Insurance Contributions, and a National Insurance rebate for new jobs in small business; and alternative routes to finance for small firms, including through the regional development agencies, a Post Bank and competition among high street banks, as well as a regional stock exchange.