This contrasts with high levels of confidence in trade associations, where 63.6 per cent of businesses rated them effective at representing their interests to national and EU government. In between these two extremes lie small business associations. Defined as either national or local associations, they received a mixed vote from business, with 49.6 per cent considering them effective and 50.4 per cent ineffective at representing small business interests to government. While large companies have higher than average confidence in their MPs, medium-sized firms feel the most under-represented, with almost 70 per cent deeming their MPs ineffective at getting their voices heard.
The MindMetre report concludes that this lack of support by MPs for British business is of great concern, as the economy faces continued sluggish fortunes. The private sector employs over two fifths of the working population, with small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular contributing disproportionately to employment. The report calls for parliamentarians to look beyond the well-publicised furore over large company directors’ bonuses, and forge a closer understanding of effective stimuli and support for the wider business community. The report also highlights the need for greater efforts from the business community to communicate more effectively with MPs on broad business issues, rather than just focused lobbying subjects.
Paul Lindsell, Managing Director at MindMetre Research, comments, “We were really taken aback by the massive lack of business confidence in MPs shown in this study, especially when cross-party support is needed for sensible and effective strategies for boosting the fortunes of British business. The key focus at the moment should be getting UK plc back on its feet, not political in-fighting, and this report starkly emphasizes how parliamentarians may simply not be paying enough attention to the issue.
“Certainly, some leaders of larger businesses have not helped matters by taking hefty bonuses despite corporate under-performance. But any intelligent observer should be able to put this into the wider perspective and concentrate on the business sector’s need for effective government support. This report notes that only 25 per cent of MPs come from a business background, almost the exact opposite of the composition of employment in the UK.
“By the same token, the outcomes of this report should also make broad business organisations up their game and make more effort to communicate with MPs. Trade associations are deemed highly effective at championing their specific issues and themes, but more generalist organisations do not seem to be getting their message across with the same effectiveness.”