UK small businesses swing left as party conference kicks in

Credit: Creative Commons / RachelH_

New data commissioned by Liverpool-based commercial finance specialist Bibby Financial Services (BFS) has found confidence in UK political parties is low amongst small and medium sized businesses with nearly one in four (22%) unable to identify the political party that best serves their needs.

But in a clear shift to the left one in three (33%) say that the Labour Party, which meets in Liverpool next week, best serves their needs, compared to just one in four (26%) choosing the Conservative Party, currently holding its conference in Manchester.

Ahead of next year’s likely 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 businesses would like to see (65%), followed by access to low interest loans or grants for business expansion and job creation (57%). Post Brexit, business owners would also like to see streamlined and simplified regulatory processes put in place, to help navigate compliance requirements (29%).

Comment from Theo Chatha, chief financial officer at Bibby Financial Services, who commissioned the survey 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.”