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UK SMEs manifesto to the Conservative government demands “simplicity and stability"

4 min read

18 May 2015

The Conservatives have pledged to increase the number of startups to 600,000 a year by 2020. With only 36 per cent of leaders believing politicians understand SMEs, the nation's business owners have set up a manifesto of their own.

According to a Bibby Financial Services report, just over a third of SMEs and policymakers agreed that politicians understood the needs of Britain’s smaller companies

This has led to UK SMEs submitting a personal manifesto to the new Conservative government, based off of a Bibby Financial Services poll that took place three days leading up to and following the general election.

Simplifying the PAYE system was cited as the highest priority, followed by a commitment to remain in the EU. When it came to discussing the EU membership, medium-sized business leaders with revenue of over £5m found it to be a higher priority.

David Postings, UK CEO of Bibby Financial Services, said: “It is clear that the question of EU membership is a key concern for UK plc. This is something the government will need to manage carefully as uncertainty will undoubtedly affect confidence and – ultimately – economic growth. How the UK’s relationship with the EU is redefined will have a real impact on the referendum. If Brussels fails to listen and act, the UK’s membership is at risk.”

Tackling late payments by large companies was also high on the list, particularly for those with revenues over £5m.

The Conservatives party claimed it would strengthen the prompt payment code, as well as improve transparency. Martin Campbell, managing director at fintech startup Ormsby Street, suggested that there’s a culture in British business of late payment.

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He claimed that a culture of integrity isn’t something that can be legislated for, but “one which our politicians can lead by example”.

Some 30 per cent of SMEs called for a reduction in business tax rates, while 23 per cent believed the government needed to make clear how much small businesses will be taxed.

The Conservatives have pledged to save businesses £10bn during this parliament. KashFlow’s John Coldicutt said: “With the Conservative party win, it’s vital the government continues its pledge to cut a further £10bn from business red tape in the next five years. One of the promises the Conservatives made during the 2010 election was to leave office having reduced the overall burden of regulation.”

A study by Reform revealed it removed £1.2bn worth of regulation since 2010, but had added an extra £4.3bn.

Over a quarter of SME owners claimed a reduction in small business taxes would help them to grow. This was followed by the “need for stable interest rates” and “no surprises with monetary policy”.

Sonovate CEO Richard Prime suggested the government should better help businesses when it comes to funding. “The main issue facing small businesses in the UK is still the banks’ inability to lend – their risk averse nature is stifling the growth of the UK’s SMEs,” he said.

“Simplicity and stability” are the main requests from the UK’s SMEs, which leaders hope the Conservative government would deliver on over the next twelve months. 

According to Postings, with high employment but low productivity, there is a possibility that the UK could enter another recession over the next two to three years. A majority government able to make “strong” decisions over the future of the economy is “likely to reduce the risk of recession”, he said.