By Daniel Hunter
As many as 41% of decision makers in small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are concerned about the potential outcome of the UK’s general election, according to new research.
This figure rises to 48% for businesses with an annual turnover below £100,00 according to new research from ClicData.
Geographically, business decision makers in the North East have the biggest concern over the election (77%), compared to 32% in London and 25% in Scotland.
The survey of decision makers in 200 SMEs also reveals that pensions, flexible working legislation and changes to the minimum wage are the key election issues that are resonating with smaller businesses. When asked about the electoral issues they are most concerned about, SME decision makers highlighted the following:
Pensions — 44%
Flexible working legislation — 38%
Minimum wage — 36%
Tax regulation — 32%
Maternity and paternity rights — 27%
Size of company appears to influence the extent of these top five issues. The minimum wage is much more of a concern for those who employ 50 or more people, and maternity and paternity rights are much more important to SMEs with an annual turnover of more than £10m. For the smallest of UK businesses, the biggest issue is pension provision, while tax regulation is the primary concern for with a turnover less than £100,000.
When asked who they believe has gained the most in the last five years, under the coalition government, big business was the overwhelming response, cited by 48%. A quarter also named homeowners. In comparison, only 13% of decision makers surveyed felt the coalition Government had similarly benefitted SMEs.
It’s a potentially worry finding that impacts millions of UK workers, ClicData said; over five million SMEs in the UK employ 60% of the UK workforce and generate close to 50% of the turnover of all private enterprise.
In the event of a referendum, from a business perspective, only 18% of SME decision makers questioned said they would vote to remain within the European Union (EU).
With only 25% of business decision makers agreeing that policies and promises relating to their personal life will be the greatest influence on how they vote, it seems the impact of political policies on business could play a significant role in determining the election outcome.