SME owners reveal voting preferences in general election

As the parties lay out their manifestos this week, insight from Simply Business have revealed that the Labour Party is currently perceived as the most supportive of small business interests.

However, many SME owners said that they would be willing to change their vote in favour of a party which put more importance on the needs of small businesses – that leaves a staggering 4.4 million votes up for grabs.  

Voting preferences of SME owners

The survey of 1,750 small business owners and self-employed people uncovered voting intentions within the sector. 38% say that the Labour party currently represents the best interests of small businesses, followed by the Conservatives at 22%, while 39% say that other parties are prioritising their needs.  

Notably 6% say that the Green Party is the party for SMEs, 7% believe that the Liberal Democrats will offer small businesses a fair deal, and 11% have confidence in Reform UK to support small business owners.

Almost half (47%) of SME owners say that a change in government would make them more hopeful about the future of their business, while well over a third (37%) say they don't think it would make a difference.  

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.

“From Covid closures, to spiralling costs – few have been hit harder than the self-employed in recent years. And while their continued resilience is inspiring, there is a worry among many that the current conditions are frankly unsustainable.  

“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.”

Sinead McHale, CEO, Satago UK comments: “Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the heart of the UK economy, contributing significantly to employment, innovation, and economic growth. Their concerns and needs must be urgently prioritised in the manifestos of all major political parties ahead of the upcoming general election.  

“SMEs face unique challenges during uncertain economic climates. Despite the UK no longer being in a recession and easing inflation, business costs remain high. With limited access to finance and late payments persisting from larger corporations, SMEs continue to grapple with profitability, sustainability and growth.   

“To ensure their continued success, SMEs need political parties to propose measures to improve payment terms and cash flow, such as enforcing stricter penalties for late payments from larger companies and incentivising prompt payment practices. Additionally, increased support for sustainable cashflow management practices such as invoice financing not only aligns with market trends but also enhances resilience for SMEs against future challenges. By prioritising the needs of SMEs, political parties can demonstrate their commitment to fostering a business environment that benefits the UK.”