By Pernille Bruun Jensen, Managing Director of Intuit UK
Small businesses represent the backbone of the British economy, and this fact has not gone unnoticed by UK politicians. All the political parties have begun to outline their promises to support UK enterprise, but what do small business owners actually want? Today, Small Business Britain faces a number of clear challenges and needs the government, banks and the wider business community to support and work with them to achieve success and prosperity for British small businesses.
Having surveyed small businesses up and down the country there are some key areas where they have said they would like to see some change.
To the UK government:
1. Reduce my National Insurance contribution rate — It’s not surprising that this was the number one wish from small business owners, as the amount of tax they have to pay is in imminent danger of stifling the potential growth and success of Small Business Britain. Around 40% of UK small businesses felt that a reduction in employers’ national insurance contribution would benefit their business the most.
2. Postpone the rate increase of Corporation Tax — Almost a third of small business owners also called for further Corporation Tax deferment. The 1p rise was due to hit 800,000 small businesses in 2010 but it was called off in late 2009 by Alistair Darling. Further deferment will help create a strong economic platform upon which they can grow and employ new staff.
To the banks:
3. Offer me better rates as a small businesses owner — Number one wish from 45% of small business customers to the banks was better rates for Small Business Britain. Small businesses’ demand for new loans is currently around £600 million a month and there is still a feeling that small business owners need more support from banks.
4. Give me better and more customer service — 36% of small businesses feel that banks should provide better customer service. Small Business Britain needs trained small business advisors who have the ability and authority to provide flexible support to their customers. Not only should the customer service have to be more personal, but the small business customer needs to be able to understand what support their bank is prepared to give.
5. Pass on Bank of England interest rate cuts to me — Around 35% of small business owners wanted interest cuts to be passed on in full to business users. Any individual bank that commits to this policy change would receive Small Business Britain’s gratitude and, potentially, custom. However, what is really needed is for the banking industry to sign up en masse.
Small Business Britain has some clear needs and is looking for support from government and banks. As small businesses employ 13.7 million people in the UK and generate over 50% of our turnover, can anyone afford not to listen?
For more information and to join the discussion, please visit www.smallbusinessbritain.co.uk.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1016 small business decision makers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7th - 9th December 2009. The survey was carried out online.
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