The ripped Christmas wrapping paper and empty new year bottles are now firmly in (or keeping open, stubbornly) many of our recycling bins as we enter the first month of 2019.

So, what does this year hold for small businesses and what do we at the Federation of Small Business want for our members in this region over the coming 12 months?

Our key ask is for an end to the political turmoil over Brexit, which has engulfed Westminster since the referendum. The ongoing lack of clarity about what type of Brexit we should prepare for is hampering certainty and investment decisions for many businesses and many individuals.

For small businesses March 29 will see major change no matter what. It is then followed in April with the introduction of quarterly online tax reporting for those businesses trading at more than the £85,000 VAT threshold.

With this ‘double whammy’ at the very start of the new year financial year, the Government must turn its focus to helping and supporting entrepreneurs through this major change. There is enough bureaucracy for many already and this unwelcome move does nothing to help small businesses to improve their competitiveness or productivity.

There is still much to be positive about. I am hoping this year will be the one where the injustice of late payments will be put to an end. The Government has listened to what we have said about awarding contracts to big companies who don’t pay on time and have pledged action.

Small businesses also play an important role in our local communities. For example they are more likely to employ those who are harder to reach, say an ex-serviceman or a disabled person.

This could be the year this is finally recognised.

No one has a crystal ball and no one can predict all of the ups and downs that we will face in 2019. One thing is certain, though. Small businesses will continue to show ambition, creativity and a ‘can-do’ approach whatever is thrown at them.