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The Small Business Vote? It’s too Close to Call

Small business owners in the UK  are on track to outnumber public sector workers, according to the RSA think tank. They are also much more likely to vote. New research by Google for Makeitcheaper.com finds that 93% of the UK’s 5.2 million small business owners intend to vote in next week’s election. One third of them still haven’t decided which party to vote for.

No wonder the parties are making a big deal about being the party of small business.

But despite the Conservatives dominating the front page of today’s Telegraph with a letter from small business owners pledging their support, this new impartial poll finds that the Labour Party has a small edge for small business owners. The gap widens to a North-South divide with Labour well ahead among small business owners in Northern regions of England and the Conservatives ahead in the South. With a wider range of political parties on offer, it’s a mixed picture in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Labour come out as favourite (21.7%) among business owners, followed closely by the Conservatives (20.9%). UKIP (9.4%) has more support than The Green Party (7.7%), but it is the Liberal Democrats (5.2%) who are left trailing behind all others.

UKIP was voted the most damaging for small businesses, with over 27.3% of SME owners saying that – should they get into power – the party would have a negative impact on their business, overall. The Conservatives and Labour were close behind with 19.8% and 18.5% respectively.

The big issues for small businesses are EU membership and skills. And there are interesting gender differences in the views of small business owners. While 27% of male business owners want to leave the EU, that drops to 21% for women. And while 20% of men see workforce skills and education as an issue they would like to see addressed after the election, that rises to 24% of female business owners.

See the infographic below for more details of the poll. And if you are one of the third of business owners who is still undecided about who to vote for, click the links below to take a closer look at each party’s manifesto.

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