Last week we talked about what UK parties have to offer SMEs, but what do small businesses actually want from the May 2015 elections?
Much has changed for small businesses since the last General Election. With the return of growth, even small businesses borne out of the recession are thriving and more are popping up every day. According to Forbes, one in ten UK residences is now home to a small business, while five million SMEs drive the economy.
Still, many small businesses feel that essential changes need to be made by the next government in order for them to truly flourish.
1. Fund early stage strategic advice.
Small businesses need good advice, and don’t always have the budget to pay unnecessarily large fees for the privilege. Small businesses want to see the government’s £30 million Growth Voucher scheme extended past its March cut-off point.
The scheme helps SMEs get advice from accredited sources on a range of issues, from finance and cash flow, recruiting and developing staff to making the most of digital technology.
Private sector funding could pick up the slack in this area, looking beyond startups to help existing small businesses continue to grow.
2. Cut the red tape
SMEs have to jump through a lot of red tape – much of it unnecessary – in order to procure government contracts or attract custom from big businesses. While the current government has promised to remove such restrictions and award 25 per cent of government contracts to small businesses, more needs to be done.
Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones told Forbes that larger firms that procure from SMEs should “receive a kite mark that shows they are ‘Investors in Small Business’”.
3. Allow tax-free childcare
Female entrepreneurs are slowly gaining ground on their male colleagues in the startup world, but can face a unique challenge – paying for childcare is becoming increasingly expensive. Making childcare a tax deductible expense would benefit all those in a small business who also have a family to consider, but is a vital step towards encouraging more women to leave the security of their existing jobs to start their own ventures.