Small businesses concerned over lack of government support

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Small businesses concerned over lack of government support

Most of Britain's small businesses want the government to provide more support to them - and are concerned that none of the political parties appear willing to offer the kind of help they want.

A survey by SwitchMyBusiness.com found many small businesses are struggling and as many as a quarter fear they could fold in the next six months, despite the recent growth in the economy. Around a third of small business owners are taking on or seeking part-time work to boost their incomes.

The study found 93 per cent want matters to change after May 7th, whoever is in office after the vote.

Although David Cameron has publicly backed small businesses, 40 per cent of respondents have said the prime minister does not have a good understanding of the needs of small firms. However, it remains to be seen if Labour or the other parties can do better.

In response to this, SwitchMyBusiness.com has launched the #Whatbizwant manifesto.

This focuses on a number of issues where many small businesses want to see change. Topping the list is the level of business rates, with 34 per cent wanting to see these cut. By contrast, 30 per cent want to see more funding and grants. 27 per cent wish to see higher tax free allowances and 25 per cent would like to see cash-flow issues eased by a new loan scheme that would work in a similar way to the Student Loans Scheme, with extra time allotted before it has to be paid back.

Other popular measures include help to stop late payment by customers, with 25 per cent wanting businesses who are tardy with payments given stiffer punishments. This was cited by 31 per cent of survey respondents as a major issue that hampered them financially.

Superfast broadband is on the wish list for 22 per cent and 21 per cent want more help with their utility bills, matching the tally of those who want extra help to be made available to teach them how to tackle regulations like HR laws.

Commenting on the 'manifesto', chief executive of SwitchMyBusiness.com Ivan McKeever said: "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. This is why we’ve put together the small business manifesto so as we head into election 'promise' season, the political parties will stand up and take notice."

The issue may be one parties are anxious to engage with in what looks like being one of the closest and most uncertain elections in living memory, with the Conservatives and Labour neck-and-neck and the rise of the Scottish National Party making a second successive hung parliament appear more likely.

Earlier this week, Labour leader Ed Miliband told the Federation of Small Businesses National Conference he would seek to bring in stricter regulations to tackle late payment, while chancellor George Osborne promised the Conservatives would reform business rates.