As the general election fast approaches, the economy is at a critical point. Key to the continued economic stability and growth, is the small business community.
For context, there are 5.2 million businesses in the UK, employing 25.2 million people, with a combined turnover of more than £3,500 billion. In 2014, small firms accounted for 99.3 per cent of all private sector businesses in the UK.
Considering these staggering statistics, it is imperative the winning party truly understands and supports SMEs, enabling them to grow and prosper. I believe the Conservative party has the skills, expertise and experience to deliver.
If we take a moment to look back, the current government has truly championed small businesses, despite the challenging conditions. We have seen the introduction of various initiatives, including Growth Vouchers, Start-Up Loans to name but a couple, which have enabled existing small businesses to flourish and new ventures to establish. For the economy, this has meant more money and more jobs, which can only be a good thing.
So, what does the incoming government need to consider?
Access to finance
Increasing numbers of business owners are choosing alternative funding options to grow their businesses; particularly given that banks aren't necessarily keen on taking risk. The need for start-up finance in the UK is clearly illustrated by Start-up Loans figures. The Government-run scheme has helped start over 27,000 businesses by providing capital, mentorship and guidance. This funding has to continue and indeed increase. The Conservatives have pledged to triple the number of start-up loans for businesses to 75,000.
There is a genuine skills gap in the UK that needs to be addressed. We have to consider how we prepare young people for working life, ensuring they have the skills to be able to propel our businesses and thus economy forward. I believe apprenticeships deliver real value, proper on the job training and the Conservatives have decreed they will offer an additional three million apprenticeships, should they win.
Confidence and stability results in a buoyant economy, where business owners are happy to invest and the economy grows. Uncertainty promotes caution, risk and negativity. As such, allowing the Conservatives to finish what they have started is essential.
In summary, Labour talk about hard working families in the same breath as apparently snubbing the idea of wealth creation. Small business owners are incredibly hard working people who employ millions. As a business owner myself, who deals exclusively with small businesses, I have not come across anyone supporting Labour views on the economy. A Conservative win, is a win for small businesses across the UK.