A sharp growth in vehicle leasing among SMEs has been reported.

Lex Autolease says it saw a 29% year-on-year rise in the number of vehicles it leased to small firms last year.

The company suggests the surge is an indication that SMEs are increasingly looking to streamline their operations and cut their overheads by stripping their balance sheets of depreciating assets.

That concern, said Lex appeared to be particularly prevalent for commercial vehicles, with the leasing specialist experiencing a 110% year-on-year rise in van leasing by small businesses. The number of company cars leased by small businesses saw a year-on-year growth of 21% in 2014.

The head of SME Direct at Lex Autolease, said: “The UK’s nimble SME sector is focused on streamlining and operating more efficiently, and as many small companies shifted their business plans to expansion last year, they started looking at new, innovative ways of restructuring their operations.

“The sharp growth we’ve seen shows that increasing numbers of small businesses are seeing the benefits of leasing in delivering key, sustainable changes to their vehicle management that both streamline their operations and reduce costs.”