Election is not just about Brexit for SMEs

Domestic issues are just as important to UK small businesses as Brexit when it comes to the 2017 general election, a new survey shows.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has polled its members and found that 76% identified an issue other than Brexit as the top priority for the next Government. However, 61% did include "delivering a good Brexit deal" as a key issue when asked to choose all their priorities.

A high proportion (46%) listed improving support for the self-employed as a key concern - including addressing the inequality of self-employed access to social security and pensions, and helping the self-employed access financial products such as mortgages.

Small businesses are also keen to see the next Government make long-term investments to help support growth - with 38% viewing investment in infrastructure as a priority and 37% saying the same about investment in skills.

Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said: "Those seeking to form the next Government must show their commitment to supporting the UK's army of 4.8 million self-employed - a hugely motivated group of strivers, and indeed voters, who will be crucial to the success of the UK economy over the next few years.

"Small firms across the board have seen the costs of doing business going up and up in recent years. The next Government must help small businesses to thrive and avoid throwing more barriers - both financial and regulatory - in their way."

In the FSB's most recent Small Business Index, a net balance of 64% of small businesses said operating costs had risen in the past quarter, the highest since Q2 2013.

The FSB's election manifesto sets out the priorities for the next Government, including "protecting the self-employed from being singled-out for tax grabs such as higher National Insurance". The manifesto also calls for new measures to curb supply-chain bullying as well as reforms to business rates, energy bills, R&D tax credits and public procurement.

"Clearly Brexit is the backdrop to this election, and small businesses want to see easy-to-use trade deals, continued access to the skills and workforce that they need and a replacement for EU funding and investment streams," said Cherry. "But it is clear from [this] member survey that there are plenty of domestic issues which will also be crucial in ensuring the success of small businesses over the course of the next parliament."

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