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Business leaders fail to back government strategy for growth

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With all eyes on the Tory conference in Birmingham today, chancellor George Osborne’s economic strategy continues to face scrutiny. 

Business leaders’ dissatisfaction with the government’s economic policy continues, according to the Business Confidence Index (BCI), published by Regus. Only a third of senior business leaders in the UK are satisfied with George Osborne’s attempts to stimulate the economy.

Although confidence among businesses is rising slightly (45 per cent believe that revenues will rise – up two per cent), only 33 per cent of business managers and owners are currently satisfied with the Tories’ attempts to stimulate economic growth. 

This satisfaction figure is considerably lower than many of the world’s leading economies, including France and the Netherlands, which both scored a satisfaction rate nearly three times higher than the UK. With only the Australian, South African and Japanese governments listed with a lower satisfaction ratings, Osborne may need to address this bubbling issue.

While “you can’t just balance the budget on the wallet of the rich” continues to be Osborne’s message, this may no longer resonate in the ears of businesses. “Britain’s business leaders are sending a clear message to the Government,” says Steve Purdy, UK managing director of Regus. 

“They clearly don’t have much faith in the current policies to stimulate the economic growth which is so badly needed.” Purdy continues: “We were particularly struck by the lack of any improvement in confidence amongst entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

The BCI calls particular attention to the effect Osborne’s policy is having upon SMEs, as business confidence among small and start-up businesses has flatlined over the past year. This is a particular concern due to the importance of SMEs as a motor of growth and jobs in the UK economy. 

Of the 3,000 business respondents interviewed in the BCI survey, 70 per cent named cash flow as their main problem; 52 per cent said finding customers was what keeps them awake at night; 33 per cent named the cost of marketing and promotion as the biggest issue.

The report details key measures businesses would like to see the government introduce that would substantially help small and start-up businesses: 74 per cent of respondents named tax exemptions as a method to stimulate the economy, while 67 per cent suggested lower interest loans and 27 per cent mentoring schemes.  Chancellor Osborne needs to prepare himself for battle, as this week’s Tory conference will give SMEs plenty more opportunity to question government policy.

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