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Small firms back repayment of national debt

25 May 2010

More than three quarters of small firms back moves to tackle Britain's record deficit


More than three quarters of small firms back moves to tackle Britain's record deficit, a new Forum of Private Business survey has found.

When asked what the new government's immediate priorities should be, 77% of respondents to the Forum's latest Referendum ballot listed repayment of the national debt.

The issue emerged as the single most prominent concern among SMEs polled by the Forum - apparently endorsing the new coalition government's strong emphasis on rapid deficit reduction.

Stronger regulation of utility companies and banks was the next most popular priority listed by small business owners, finding favour with 62% of those surveyed. This was closely followed by simplification of the tax system, on 61%.

Commenting on the findings, the Forum's research manager Thomas Parry said: "The one clear and consistent message to come out of this survey is that business owners want to see the deficit dealt with, and dealt with fast.

"Many small businesses will be hit by tax rises and spending cuts, just like everyone else. However, I think our members take the view that the economy can't continue servicing such a dangerous level of debt and it needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later, for the whole country's sake."

The Forum's latest Referendum ballot, which was completed by members just before the General Election, also appears to indicate that some business owners will be happy with the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition.

The Conservative Party was easily the most popular party among the small firms surveyed. The Tories found favour with 61% of respondents - way above the 36% share of the vote that the party won among the general electorate.

The Lib Dems were the third most popular party among small business owners but twice as popular as Labour. When asked which party best understood the needs of their businesses, only around 2.9% of Forum members said Labour, compared to 5.5% for the Lib Dems.

The Liberals also appear to be more agreeable to small firms than that Scottish and Welsh nationalists - SNP and Plaid Cymru attracted the backing of just 2% of Forum members in the two countries.

Mr Parry commented: "Since the global financial crisis, the Lib Dems have been very vocal about the need for tighter controls on the banks, so perhaps this message has won them some support among SMEs."

However, the Lib Dems attracted significantly less support than UKIP, which emerged as the second most popular political party among Forum members. The anti-EU group found favour with 7.4% of small businesses polled, despite managing only a 3% share of votes overall in the election.

In addition, almost a quarter (around 23%) of Referendum respondents said they feel that absolutely none of the political parties understand their business and its needs, reflecting a considerable amount of disillusionment.

News source: Courtesy of Glass & Glazing Magazine