By Jonathan Davies

The Conservatives' support for small businesses may have played a big role in its victory in the general election, according to Sage UK.

The survey found that 60% of small business owners saying the Tories' manifesto best supports the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It was an overwhelming majority compared with Labour, which was just as popular as "none" (7%). The SNP was favoured by 5% of small businesses, UKIP and the Lib Dems were backed by 3% and the Greens just 1%.

Looking specifically at the party leaders, David Cameron received backing from more than half of SME owners (56%). The second most popular answer was "none" (13%). Six per cent of small firms supported Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon respectively, Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg on 5% and Natalie Bennett on 1%.

The survey also suggested that the Conservatives may have received some tactical voting from small businesses owners. More than half (56%) said they feared a hung parliament, but just 38% said they feared an EU referendum.

Brendan Flattery, president of Sage Europe, said: “It is clear that small businesses are worried about the effect a hung parliament will have on UK businesses. For Sage, the most important factor is that whatever the colour of the next government, they must take the small business agenda forward.”