Small business owners deserting Labour over tax fears

And when it comes to how small business owners intend to cast their vote on May 6, Labour now ranks a distant third behind the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. Fifty percent of the survey respondents said they will be voting Conservative, 18% Lib Dem, followed by 12% supporting Labour. Indeed, according to XLN, the communications and telecoms company which commissioned the survey, the respondents most trust a Cameron/Osborne or Cameron/Cable combination to protect the interests of small businesses ahead of the Brown/Darling pairing.
 
And it is the Government’s promise not to increase taxes in the next Parliament that appears to be facing the greatest scepticism. 59% of small business owners believe Labour will instead actually raise business taxes, whereas 37% believe the Conservatives would fulfil their pledge to lower them. A similar pattern appears for personal taxes: 45% thinking Labour would raise them, whereas 28% think the Tories would be most likely to cut them.
 
Indeed, of the small business owners surveyed, fifty seven percent said a Labour win would be the worst election outcome for their business. Their main concerns are that public spending and national debt will continue to spiral out of control, and banks will continue restricting lending to small businesses – in addition to their overriding fear that business taxes would rise. A hung Parliament was cited as the worst scenario for a further 22% whose top concern is that without a clear majority, no party would be able to implement their policies.
 
And among those who have said they most trust Cameron and Osborne to protect the interests of small businesses, it is resentment towards Brown and Darling’s handling of the economy, rather than proposed Conservative policies that appears to be driving their opinion: 52% believe Brown and Darling’s actions have bankrupted the nation for generations to come.
 
XLN CEO and co-founder, Christian Nellemann, commented: “Amongst small business owners, the message is clear – Labour has had its day. And whilst the Liberal Democrats may be making significant ground, there is not yet enough momentum to suggest a hung parliament as a likely outcome.
 
“Furthermore, small business owners are clear in their own minds what they need to get their own businesses – and in turn the UK economy – going: a reduction in business rates, a reduction in national insurance contributions, better interest rates on loans and more available bank loans. Bottom line, small businesses believe the Conservative party will be most able to deliver this.”
 
According to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 99.9% of all enterprises in the UK, 59.4% of private sector employment and 50.1% of private sector turnover. Total employment in the sector is estimated at 13.7 million and turnover at £1,500 billion.
 
The survey sampled 994 small business owners and employees around the UK of which 617 were small business owners. The survey was conducted 8-19 April 2010.

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