Almost 80% of North West small firms support deficit reduction, survey finds
In a survey carried out by the Cheshire-based Forum of Private Business, 78% of the region’s small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) said reducing the deficit should be one of the new Government’s main priorities.
By comparison, only 36% said that introducing fairer taxes should be a priority and only 20% called for public procurement to be made more accessible.
Stronger regulation of banks and utility companies emerged as the second most popular choice, finding favour with 68% of business owners polled. This compared to 62% across the wider UK.
Tax simplification was the third most popular priority for the new Government among small firms in the North West, with 67% of respondents listing it as a concern.
Forum spokesman Phil McCabe said: “I think this research shows that most small business owners in the North West appreciate the need to tackle the UK’s record public debt and are behind the new Government’s efforts to do so.
“Like everyone else, the region’s business owners will undoubtedly suffer some pain from big spending cuts, but they are used to managing budgets and know how crippling large debts can be if left to fester. However, it’s important that crucial small business support services aren’t sacrificed in the drive to cut costs as SMEs will be crucial to Britain’s economic recovery.”
Mr McCabe added: “Business owners in the North West also seem particularly keen to see stronger regulation of the banks. This perhaps shows that they have had particular problems with accessing credit through the recession and are especially keen to see the banking industry being held to account for the financial crisis.”
When asked how business support could be improved locally, cutting local taxation easily emerged as the most popular choice among small firms in the North West, finding favour with 64% of those surveyed. The next most popular choice for business owners in the region was addressing parking and transport issues – 36% of respondents to the Forum’s survey listed this as a problem.
Encouragingly, only 22% of business owners in the North West listed crime prevention as a priority, compared to 30% nationally. However, 28% of respondents said the image of their local area needed to be improved, compared to 25% of business owners across the rest of the UK.
The figures emerged through the Forum’s quarterly Referendum ballot, which was sent out to Forum members just before the general election.
The survey also asked owners of small firms which political party they felt best understood their business.
As elsewhere, the Conservative Party was easily the most popular choice among the North West’s small business owners, attracting the backing of 65% of respondents. Labour and the Liberal Democrats attracted equal support, each with 4%, but 23% of the region’s business owners said none of the main political parties understood their firms.
Mr McCabe added: “It would appear that many business owners in the North West will be reasonably happy with the outcome of the election.
“However, many others feel completely disillusioned with mainstream politics and this is certainly something that needs to be addressed by the major parties.”