The Small Firms Association, whose national conference takes place today, has called for radical changes in finance, taxation and public procurement.

SFA chairman AJ Noonan said that small businesses are being starved of working capital and long-term finance, and big changes are needed to increase employment in the sector.

Ahead of today's conference, Mr Noonan said Government interventions like the micro-finance loan fund and the seed capital scheme, are welcome, but have failed utterly on implementation.

He also called for reform of capital gains tax for entrepreneurs, with the introduction of a 20% capital gains tax rate, and said that the tax is "too high and completely out of sync with competitor economies".