Disheartened entrepreneurs turn to politics ahead of the General Election
New figures suggest that more candidates with business and finance management experience are putting themselves forward as prospective MPs because they are disillusioned with existing enterprise policies.
Following research from the Industry and Parliament Trust (IPT) showing that the number of potential MPs with 15 or more years of business experience has doubled since 2008, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) is giving prospective parliamentarians a platform to outline their plans for small businesses.
Last year, the IPT revealed that just 7% of prospective parliamentary candidates demonstrated business management or financial services experience.
This year, that figure has doubled to 14%. Further, at 37%, more candidates currently work in these sectors than in others. According to the IPT the prospective parliamentarians have even more of this experience than do existing MPs.
However, despite the improvement less than half (48%) of the candidates surveyed by research agency ComRes could demonstrate business and financial management experience. Worryingly, just 31% cited business as a political interest while fewer (22%) mentioned the economy.
“We should not underestimate the importance of the year ahead,” said the FPB’s Chief Executive, Phil Orford. “Even when the economy technically comes out of recession many small businesses will be in greater need of funding in order to keep up with demand.
“That is not in place at the moment and it will be incumbent on all parliamentarians – new and old – to work to create an enterprise environment that supports business growth rather than hindering it. It appears that, disillusioned with existing enterprise policies, more entrepreneurs are proactively seeking to get involved by putting themselves forward for election.”
He added: “In the areas of tax, regulation and finance we need stability, certainty and continuity of support. Schemes designed to protect small businesses must not be sacrificed in the name of public spending cuts. It is therefore vital that the voices of those candidates with business and finance experience are heard.”
The FPB, which connects MPs to their small business constituents by sending them the results of surveys and comments members have asked to be passed on, has invited prospective parliamentary candidates to subscribe to a monthly email outlining current issues faced by small firms.
Currently, these focus on the impact of the recession, access to finance, getting paid on time, dealing with new and changing legislation and sourcing employees who have the necessary skills.
In addition, it is inviting candidates to get in touch about any of these issues ahead of the General Election and to outline their plans to address them.
According to the IPT’s research, 55% of the potential parliamentary candidates surveyed have previously stood for election. On average, they have been actively involved in politics in some way for over 12 years and their average age is 43.
In the seats surveyed, a candidate is twice as likely to be a man rather than a woman. However, compared to MPs currently in the House of Commons, there are a higher proportion of female potential candidates for each of the three main political parties