By Max Clarke

As UK small business awaits next week’s critical budget, which spectators have predicted will see the government strip away red tape inhibiting their performance, a new poll reveals that access to skilled workers and simpler and more predictable tax and regulation are some of the key factors which would drive jobs and growth.

The survey of decision-makers in over 500 small and medium-sized businesses, commissioned by TheCityUK, the independent body promoting UK-wide financial and related professional services, revealed the following key findings:

57% believe the Chancellor should prioritise business need for staff to fill the skills gap over public concern regarding levels of immigration while 36% had the opposite view.

46% of small businesses called for a stable, consistent, predictable and transparent approach to tax policy while 37% want a reduction in corporation tax to a level competitive with the G7 average.

46% of respondents called for regulation to be cut in real terms while 16% believe the UK should follow EU and global regulation without “gold-plating” or strengthening the provisions. 11% think new regulation should only be allowed if it replaces existing legislation while only 10% called for the UK to pioneer new regulation.

37% cited access to finance as the most important change factor in supporting jobs and growth in the UK, closely followed by 28% asking for reduced regulation and 19% asking for tax reform.

Chris Cummings, CEO of TheCityUK, commented: ”TheCityUK’s poll sends a clear message to the Chancellor as he puts the finishing touches to the most important budget in a generation for UK small business. To deliver on their promise of an export-led economic recovery, companies need unfettered access to a skilled workforce from the UK and elsewhere and tax and regulation which are consistent with global and regional standards.

Continued Cummings: "We also encourage the Government to do all it can to encourage equity investment in SMEs, supporting a banking industry which is actively helping businesses find new sources of finance. TheCityUK has commissioned research into how best to deliver on that objective and remains in close touch with both the banking industry and the Government on our findings.”