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What small firms want from the next government

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Professor Lynn Martin, Director of Centre for Enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University

A survey of North West small businesses by the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) Centre for Enterprise, finds that reducing business rates, better access to advice and better work-focused education are the issues they most want the next government to address.

The battle to become ‘the party of business’ has been a common theme of this election campaign. To try and understand which party would do the most good for small and medium sized businesses in the North West, MMU asked a group of business owners which policies they would most like to see in place after May 7.

Respondents agreed that it was an exciting time to do business in the North West, with all three main parties promising to devolve more powers to regional authorities. But the creation of a ‘northern powerhouse’was not considered as important as some other policies.

Businesses surveyed voted overwhelmingly in favour of reducing business rates. Many respondents felt that the current rates system punished small businesses, making it difficult for entrepreneurs to gain a foothold in the market and tricky for established businesses to expand into larger premises.

Other popular suggestions included making advice and support for small businesses more readily available, as well as improving education, training and apprenticeships so employees come to work with the skills they need.

One of the survey respondents was entrepreneur Mike Boylan, Director of Manchester-based Maxipot. He said: ” I would ask the next government to get more involved with new SME companies with new patented products that have the potential to grow at alarming rates internationally, and a lot quicker if the government was behind them. It is very stressful when you know what your company can achieve, but are held back by limited funds and resources.”

Professor Lynn Martin, Director of the MMU Centre for Enterprise, believes that the concerns of small business leaders should be made top priority for the incoming government.

She said: “If the next government is serious about promoting growth and reducing the deficit then they should set about addressing the concerns our survey has highlighted. SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy and all parties should start recognising their importance. Whether the next government is led by a single party or a coalition, it needs to focus its attention on smaller enterprises, listen and act on their most pressing concerns.”

For a full analysis of the survey results, as well as a breakdown of relevant party policy, read the special election edition of MMU’s Impact Magazine http://issuu.com/kyoungcfe/docs/impact-election-special

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