By Daniel Hunter

The majority of the British public believes that policy to promote ethical practices among big businesses should be prioritised by the next government, and is calling for the next government to commit to penalising corporates that act unfairly towards small businesses, a new poll shows.

The ComRes poll, commissioned by the Forum of Private Business, the small business membership organisation, showed that over three quarters (78%) of adults in Britain agree that big businesses are more likely to prioritise profits over high ethical standards, while 74% of adults agree that the majority of big businesses have no concern for small business owners in the UK.

The poll of over 2,000 British adults revealed that the majority (76%) agree that the next government should penalise big businesses that act unfairly towards small businesses.

Around three quarters (72%) think that the next Government should make it a priority to promote ethical practices among big businesses.

Four fifths (81%) agree that small businesses need more help to get their voices heard in parliament. And only one in seven (14%) believe that the ethics of big business are broadly the same as their own personal moral standards.

The poll suggests that the British public has identified an ethical deficit at the heart of big British business and is calling for the next government to take action.

The Forum of Private Business has today launched its Business Ethics Pledge, which calls on big business to commit to a five-point plan to protect and promote small British businesses ahead of the election.

Phil Orford, Chief Executive of the Forum of Private Business said:

“The view of the British public is clear: we are facing a crisis of trust in big business and the UK wants the next government to respond accordingly, safeguarding the UK’s small business community.

“From tax avoidance and high street domination to late payment and supply chain abuse — every week our members tell us that some of the biggest names in British business are threatening their livelihoods.

“There must be a balance between the need to attract the world’s biggest companies to Britain, ensuring we have the best environment for business, and protecting the interests of the UK’s hardworking independent small businesspeople.

“It is time for Britain’s honest workers who play by the rules to have their say and it’s time for their interests to be heard.

“The UK’s political parties should be judged at the election on their commitment to put business ethics at the top of the political agenda. Failure to do so could break small businesses, the backbone of the British economy.”