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Domestic agenda on par with Brexit for election, say entrepreneurs

FSB’s pre-election Small Business Index showed that supporting the rights of the self-employed was just as important as Brexit for small businesses in the General Election.

Entrepreneurs were also keen to see the next Government make long-term investments to help support growth – with 38 per cent prioritising investment in infrastructure and 37 per cent investment in skills.

A high proportion (46 per cent) listed improving support for the self-employed as a key concern – a combination of addressing the inequality of access to social security and pensions and lack of access to financial products such as mortgages.

When asked to identify their single most important concern, 76 per cent identified an issue other than Brexit. However, 61 per cent did include delivering a good Brexit deal as a top priority.

FSB National Chairman, Mike Cherry, said: “Those seeking to form the next government must show their commitment to supporting the UK’s army of 4.8 million self-employed – a hugely motivated group of strivers, and indeed voters, who will be crucial to the success of the UK economy over the next few years.

According to the research, a net balance of 64.5 per cent of small businesses said operating costs had risen in the last quarter, the highest since Q2 2013.

FSB’s Election Manifesto 2017 sets out the priorities for the next government, including protecting the self-employed from tax grabs such as higher National Insurance, helping them to access equal maternity pay and to get fairer treatment under Universal Credit. The manifesto also calls for measures to curb supply-chain bullying of small suppliers by big businesses, new protections for small businesses in their communities, and reforms to business rates, energy bills, R&D tax credits and public procurement.

It also urges the next government to freeze Fuel Duty and Insurance Premium Tax in the next Budget.