A review of some of the biggest small business and start-up stories from the past week, with a focus on Washington.

Small business hiring plans hit post-recession high

The number of small-business owners planning to hire new workers has jumped to its highest mark since before the recession, now at 16 percent, according to the latest poll by the National Federation of Independent Business, a sign that a stubbornly slow recovery on Main Street may pick up in the coming months.

Smallest employers making a big impact

New data from payroll processing firm ADP shows that the nation’s smallest employers (those with 1-19 employees) are making a substantial contribution to the economic recovery, adding 40,000 jobs last month, while businesses with between 20 and 49 workers added 31,000. A large portion of those openings were at services companies, while growth slowed considerably in goods-producing sectors.

Veteran loan program costing taxpayers millions

Started in 2007, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Patriot Express loan program was meant to help military veterans secure business loans, but a large number of defaults and a lack of oversight in the program have cost taxpayers about $31 million, according to a report issued last week by the Government Accountability Office.

Health insurance crooks target consumers, employers

A number of health insurance scams have emerged in recent months as crooks try to cash in on confusion over the health care reform law, including a scheme in Maryland targeting Medicare ID and Social Security numbers. Some officials say they are bracing for more incidents in the months ahead, as the new insurance exchanges roll out.

HSBC drops small business customers in the U.S.

British lender HSBC has notified its small business bankers in the United States that it will no longer serve them, starting in November, according to a letter obtained by The Wall Street Journal. The bank has more than 46,000 active commercial banking accounts in the U.S.

Obama shuffles economic advisory team

The White House announced last week that the president’s top economic adviser, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, will step down at the end of the year, to be replaced by former Office of Management and Budget director Jeff Zients.

What are you keeping an eye on this week? Please let us know below.

Follow J.D. Harrison and On Small Business on Twitter.