As the Party Conference season kicks off, new data commissioned by SME funder, Bibby Financial Services (BFS), finds that confidence in UK political parties is low amongst SMEs with nearly one in four (22%) unable to identify the political party that best serves their needs.
And there’s a clear shift to the left with one in three (33%) SMEs saying that the Labour Party best serves their needs, compared to just one in four (26%) choosing the Conservative Party.
Ahead of next year’s General Election, economic growth and job creation (71%) are the most critical issue for small businesses, followed by tax policies and incentives (68%) and access to affordable financing and loans (46%).
In terms of specific measures or reforms that the next government could make in 2024, tax incentives is the most popular policy SMEs would like to see (65%), followed by access to low interest loans or grants for business expansion and job creation (57%).
Post Brexit, SMEs would also like to see streamlined and simplified regulatory processes put in place, to help navigate compliance requirements (29%).
Theo Chatha, Chief Financial Officer at Bibby Financial Services said, “Since the last General Election, small businesses have faced myriad challenges, from sky-high inflation to spiralling interest rates and supply chain shortages.
“Despite the odds, they’ve survived through sheer grit and determination. But, unsurprisingly, confidence in central government to manage the economy effectively is low. This research indicates that SMEs feel abandoned by politicians, in general.
“What they desperately want from whichever party wins the next General Election are policies and action that reflect that Government’s genuine belief in the value that SMEs deliver to the UK economy overall.
“That means, greater economic stability and certainty, a more favourable fiscal environment and much better access to sources of finance, so they can properly plan for growth.
“All SMEs really need is a supportive framework. The rest they can do for themselves.”