More than 1.4 million jobs could be at risk as rising numbers of small businesses plan to stop trading in the next five years, according to a new survey.
The research, conducted by Opinium for Bizdaq, reveals that 363,000 small business owners say they plan to cease trading in the next five years. A further 510,000 business owners plan on selling up in the same timeframe.
Researchers say the findings show that small businesses are closing at an "alarming rate". The survey also finds that Britain's small businesses are struggling, with 65% of small business owners reporting that their firms have either seen negative financial growth or no growth at all since the last election.
Of those planning to close, 35% of young business owners (18-34 year olds) are blaming Brexit. However Brexit is only a factor for 9% of 35-54 year old business owners that are planning to stop trading, and it's just 3% for small business owners aged 55+.
Small business owners in the North East were found to be the most likely to leave their business in the next five years, with 29% planning to exit. Those in the West Midlands were revealed to be happiest in their business, with only 14% considering exiting.
The findings have significant implications for jobs in the UK. With the average small businesses employing just over four employees, the researchers estimate that 1.4 million jobs could be under threat.
"For too long, hard-working small business owners and their employees, who underpin the British economy, have been left without the support and advice they deserve from the Government," said Sean Mallon, ceo of Bizdaq. "Given the Government's continued campaign for job creation, it's amazing so little is being done to preserve the number of existing jobs at risk within Britain's small businesses.
"With 1.4m jobs at risk, and a little awareness around the preservation of great businesses and the jobs they create … the Government should be driving this agenda," said Mallon.
Respondents were also polled about their voting intentions in the upcoming general election. The survey shows that Labour has lost the votes of 109,000 small business owners since the last election - 37% said they plan to vote Conservative (up 2% since 2015), 19% said they will vote Labour (down from 21% in 2015) and 11% will vote for the Liberal Democrats.
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