As the dust settles on the political landscape post 7 May, UK SMEs have laid out their policy wish list for the new Conservative Government. The single biggest immediate priority is a simplified PAYE system – a policy backed by almost a quarter of UK SMEs polled*.
In creating a vision for the next twelve months, when asked what three policies they would like to see from the Government, almost a third of SMEs leant their voice to calls for the UK to stay within the EU. Meanwhile tax was another area of policy where businesses would like to see clarity with a clear outline of how much small businesses will be taxed. Just under a third polled also called for a reduction in business tax rates.
As we saw earlier this week / last week (change where appropriate) growth in the UK economy is very much under the spotlight, with the Bank of England reducing its forecast for 2015. Growth is also a key challenge for business owners with over a quarter indicating a reduction in small business taxes would help them to grow. A quarter of businesses also said having stable interest rates and no surprises in monetary policy would also help these crucial businesses.
So what does this mean for the business environment?
Simplicity and stability – that is what UK businesses are asking for from the new Government. Just under half of businesses agreed that politicians should stop tinkering with SME policy and let them get on with the job at hand.
With worries over growth and productivity threatening the economy as well as uncertainty surrounding the UK’s relationship with the EU, there is the real risk of the UK slipping back into a recession in the next few years. With years of policy changes amidst a deep recession and economic recovery, the SME community does not want any more new policies just for the sake of it.
While lenders such as Bibby Financial Services can provide stability and comfort of mind to businesses by providing a source of financing, equally we are also subject to operating in the same business environment managed by policymakers.
The Government should resist the temptation to make wholesale changes and focus on creating a stable environment for small businesses to flourish as it attempts to tackle the economic challenges the UK faces.
*Bibby Financial Services polled 1,000 UK SME owners and decision makers in the three days leading up to and following the General Election.