Prioritising small businesses could generate more than one and a half million new jobs

Insights from small business insurer Simply Business showed that SMEs would invest more in expansion plans – including increasing staff headcount, expanding stock, and innovating new products – if the government provided the right conditions.

Almost a third (29%) of the UK's 5.51 million small business owners would immediately recruit new staff if the government successfully reduced their running costs. That would introduce 1,597,900 new jobs to the labour market, which had rapidly cooled in recent months, with unemployment continuing to grow. Two fifths (42%) of SMEs said they could expand their enterprise, and 34% indicated they would look to innovate their products and services.

Larnia Ryder, owner of retail brand Ryde Store in Lancashire, said: “I would love to take on new staff and keep improving my stock, but uncertain economic climate, inflation, and fluctuating consumer spending make it hard to build any kind of growth strategy.

“Being self-funded is probably the biggest hurdle. Our signature product sold out at its last release, and we know what we could do to make it even better - but finding the research and development budget has been really difficult. Accessing the necessary cash for growth is hard when the usual routes of local growth hubs, investment or government organisations are not investing.”

In a bid to foster a more supportive environment for SME owners, 43% of small business owners think the new government should reduce red tape around business funding and grants, whilst a third (30%) urge them to provide more low-interest loans.

Vyk Jefferson, Manager at 5th Avenue Flowers in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne said “We have been running as a sole trader since 1982, so we’re a well-established business. We have many loyal customers (who we love dearly), but challenges persist. Because of people still working from home, we are down on events as well as corporate contracts, as many of our offices are still deserted. Footfall has dropped dramatically, both of our stores are in business areas, & where once we thrived, now we are struggling.

With the general election coming up, the government should be looking to the backbone of the British economy – small businesses – and keeping individual traders and companies going. I’d love to see some serious commitments to the small business community being made by the candidates.”

Bea Montoya, COO at Simply Business UK, comments “Small businesses are the beating heart of our economy and communities, and our research shows just how crucial they will be to July’s election result. Party leaders now have an opportunity to appeal directly to the almost four and a half million UK small business owners who say they’d consider voting for a different party if it placed more importance on the needs of small businesses.

“Their message is clear: put small businesses at the centre of our economic plan by tackling their challenges head-on. In doing so, candidates will be appealing not just to our country’s SME owners, but to an extended pool of voters – the families of small business owners and those who rely on SMEs for their employment.

“The UK’s 5.5 million small businesses are an essential part of our collective economic stability. Their importance – and the power of their votes – cannot be underestimated.”