There are 5.2 million businesses in the UK, employing a total of 25.2 million people. Small firms account for 99.3% of all private sector businesses in the UK (BIS 2014). We create employment, we innovate, spend on R&D, collect PAYE and VAT for the government and some of us even export around the world. Many of us also put huge sums back into our local communities.
But we are seriously neglected by the political parties. So perhaps it’s time they demonstrated their commitment to us.
This is my personal, slightly tongue in cheek, TEN point list of demands for the political party interested in wooing my vote this May:
1. 2 weeks’ paid holiday per year (at a nominal £500 per week) for R ‘n’ R for all sole traders turning over less than £60K (necessary to avoid burn out caused by lack of rest periods)
2. Government backing with mortgage and other financing requests (as finance can be difficult to obtain for the self-employed with variable incomes)
3. A contribution towards an annual health check (to ensure we are kept ‘fit for purpose’, free hypnotherapy tapes to help with those sleepless nights about money or staff, a £10 annual voucher for whale music for stressful times (as bosses so often neglect their own stress levels, which is not great for business continuity and sustainability)
4. Red tape halved for those employing fewer than five people (to ensure that business owners can focus on doing business rather than endless compliance issues)
5. Reimbursement of monies paid to women for accrued holiday and other benefits during maternity leave (as this can be a massive burden to a small business)
6. Employment tribunal judges to take into consideration business profitability when deciding the outcome of employment claims (because what is the point of driving a business into the ground as a result of just one employee claim – we’re not monsters, but we do sometimes make mistakes)
7. Free and ongoing Sales and Customer Service Training to support annual growth for each business (which in turn puts money back into the economy and recognises that so many small business owners lack confidence with sales or expertise with customer service)
8. Free Accounts, Financial Planning and Book Keeping Training at any stage (essential if the UK government recognises the value these businesses bring to the economy but also knows that lack of financial expertise holds many back)
9. Government funding and support to achieve the creation of a series of co-operatives to provide the opportunity for individual businesses within a similar sector to group together to do business (the co-operative then has greater power to negotiate and achieve government and large corporate contracts that are otherwise virtually unattainable for smaller businesses – which in turn restricts their growth)
10. Free annual passes to all UK comedy clubs and comedy events as maintaining our sense of humour and finding a great way to relax is crucial if we are to ‘live long and prosper’.
So, a variety of initiatives, rewards and support mechanisms designed to drive …
• More enterprise = more money into the economy, more spend on R&D and more innovation
• More employment = more money into economy, more NI collected, reduction in welfare payments, greater stability and wealth in local communities
• More growth, more exports = more corporation tax, business rates and VAT payments
Plus, of course, greater satisfaction, greater achievement, less stress and less frustration for business owners.
And when some lovely political party offers me these things, then I shall be happy to give them my vote, my respect and my loyalty.
Image: British holiday via Shutterstock