LESS than one-quarter of small and medium enterprises in Scotland expect to expand their workforce next year, according to research from Co-operative Bank.

The study found just 24% of those surveyed were going on recruitment drives. Alongside that, 21% planned to invest in their firm including areas such as new equipment or improvements in premises.

Only 19% said they anticipated growth in international orders, although just 10% said they were worried about orders from outside the UK falling.

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The uncertain economy was cited as the biggest challenge small businesses will have to face next year, followed by rising energy bills, controlling cashflow, dealing with skills shortages and retaining support from banks.