SMEs slam government's business performance


Three-quarters of the UK's small business owners feel the government does not understand their needs.

A survey by Bibby Financial Services also found that four out of 10 of respondents are not able to name a single benefit that the Labour government has brought to their business.

Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) also scored the government's small business performance at less than five out of 10 for its last term in power.

"The small business community is a vital part of the electorate and one which each political party should particularly be aware of in their manifestos and campaigning efforts," said David Robertson, chief executive of Bibby Financial Services.

"In terms of feelings from the workplace, there certainly seems to be some swing towards the Tories but Labour has delivered economic stability which 23 per cent of owners and managers say is the number-one business issue that will affect the way they will cast their vote on polling day," he added.

Earlier this month, a Mori poll of 200 UK finance directors carried out for the Financial Times found that half believe the Conservatives have the best policies for business, against fewer than a quarter (23 per cent) for Labour and a mere four per cent for the Liberal Democrats.

Almost six out of ten (58 per cent) said they intended to vote Conservative, a quarter (26 per cent) Labour and 14 per cent Lib Dem.

An overwhelming nine out of 10 also said that taxes on business will rise if Labour forms the next government.

But conversely, almost six out of ten (58 per cent) said that the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, remains the most capable candidate to run Britain's economy.

Respondents to Bibby's poll also acknowledged Labour's success in managing the economy, while almost a quarter said that Gordon Brown was the politician they would most like to work for their firm.

But nevertheless, the Tories emerged as the party of choice for the small business community with more than a third (36 per cent) saying they have the best policies for businesses and a third (33 per cent) saying that they would support Michael Howard on May 5th.

In contrast, less than one in 10 (9 per cent) backed Labour while the avowedly high-taxing Liberal Democrats attracted support of just seven per cent.

But one in five said that they have yet to decide which party will get their vote and one in three refused to divulge where their allegiances lie.

In addition to economic stability, small businesses said that taxes, deregulation, employment/HR legislation and joining the Euro were the issues that will influence their voting decision on May 5.