SMEs unclear about what the general election could mean for business

One in five SME decision makers surveyed predict the outcome of the election will be positive for their business, but 27 per cent think it will have no impact, and 40 per cent say they don’t know. Just 12 per cent are worried that the outcome will be negative for them.

Most SMEs will vote with a business head, with 59 per cent of decision makers who plan to vote saying they will take the interests of their business into consideration when voting. Furthermore, 48% plan to learn more about the impact of individual party policies on their business before deciding who to vote for.

Decision makers from small and medium businesses are more sure of their opinions about an EU Referendum. The majority of SMEs think an EU exit would damage the UK economy. Consequently 54 per cent of SMEs would like to see us remain in the EU, and only one third would like to see an EU exit.

There is also a lack of consensus amongst SMEs about whether the coalition government has been positive for them. 38 per cent of those surveyed say the coalition has been positive for their business whilst 32 per cent say it has had no impact and one quarter say it has been negative.

However it is clear what SMEs want from the next government and that is to see the easing of the effects of increased regulation on their businesses. 43 per cent of respondents would like to see the next government cut legislation and red-tape as the top priority for SMEs in the UK, while just 18 per cent prioritised seeing late payment terms tackled and given the headlines about about lack of access to finance only 14 per cent cite better access to finance as their top priority.

Jason Eatock, Head of SME at Zurich, comments: “Two months ahead of the general election, we wanted to take the temperature of SME attitudes towards the changing political situation and how it could affect them. Interestingly, while Britain’s businesses are currently unsure about what the effects of the election itself could be, they have strong views on an EU exit and its effects on the wider economy.

“Cutting legislation and red-tape is still the number one priority for UK SMEs, significantly ahead of other key issues such as late payment terms and access to finance. We hope that the post-election government, whoever they may be, will go some way towards easing the regulatory burden businesses face.”