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SME business leaders fear for their future ahead of general election

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According to a pre-general election survey from compare and switch energy group SwitchmyBusiness.com, 43 per cent of SMEs questioned indicated current cash flow problems.

Some 31 per cent said of respondents said they were being paid late, while over 35 per cent revealed they had skipped paying themselves on “numerous occasions”. High utility bills and insurance costs are a particular concern, the study noted.

Another 35 per cent said they would look to shut down if “life doesn’t get easier” for small businesses and, based on current bank balances, a quarter said they could only survive one-to-six months into the future. A third said they would consider taking on part-time work to make ends meet.

SMEs also complained of damage to their personal lives, with one in ten saying they had lost friends because they were working too much. A further 38 pre cent said they were arguing with their partners because of stress and lack of sleep and 10 per cent had missed their child’s birthday due to business commitments.

The rigours of their working lives are also playing havoc with their health. Some 20 per cent indicated they sacrifice their well-being for their business by eating too much high fat and sugar convenience junk food.

Ivan McKeever, chief executive of SwitchMyBusiness.com, said the findings revealed the “true state of small businesses in the UK”. He added: “The picture from UK small business owners is clear; they want change from the government and they want more help. Small businesses are the forgotten younger brother of the big corporates and we want them to have a voice and get it heard.”

Using the survey’s findings, McKeever said it had created an election manifesto with key areas for the next government to focus on in the run up to the 2015 election.

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“As we head into election promise season, the political parties will stand up and take notice,” he said.

The manifesto states that 34 per cent of SMEs want a reduction in business rates, 30 per cent want an increase in funding and grants, 27 per cent support higher tax free allowances for small businesses – with a quarter wanting harsher penalties for businesses that pay them late.

Another quarter support an introduction of a loan scheme similar to the student loans structure with extra time before they need to pay it back and a fifth want more help in understanding, paying for and complying with HR laws and other legal regulations.

Another fifth want access to affordable super-fast broadband in more areas of the UK and 21 per cent are calling on the government to help with their utility bills.

Image: Shutterstock

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