With last week marking 100 days until the 2015 General Election on 7 May, the leaders of the major political parties are likely to make a renewed commitment to showing they are in touch with the issues facing Britain’s army of small-and-medium-business employees (who numbered over 15 million last year according to the FSB). So what are the big focus areas that our potential future leaders need to concentrate on to win these votes?
Helping navigate new legislation
The Government’s auto-enrolment pension scheme, which first rolled out in 2010, is likely to begin hitting the majority of Britain’s smaller businesses this year. While most of the responsibility lies with the businesses and their accountants to navigate how the increased financial commitment will affect them, parties can learn from how the rollout has affected businesses so far and build in increased guidance for SMB owners into future legislation proposals.
Helping facilitate overseas expansion
As touched on in the Go Global research we conducted last year, SMBs are increasingly looking overseas to both import and export to grow their customer base, and this year will see this trend increase further. Last year’s Autumn Statement announced a financial boost to help more businesses expand overseas, but can the other parties offer similar commitments to helping the nation’s SMBs make their mark for British industry?
Helping facilitate flexible workers
Flexible working legislation that came into effect last summer is an important step in addressing the changing workstyles of today. Enabling employees to work remotely can have a lasting beneficial impact for families and working parents. So how can politicians help to expand on this new workplace trend? What other provisions – such as increased need for remote secure technology, or a reassessment of the needs of our transport network – could be made to help change the way we work?
Helping the self-employed
Freelancers and self-employed workers make up a large portion of the working population, and unlike company employees, varying levels of social security are less available to this group. This issue also affects the more specific group of female self-employed workers; according to Prowess, there has been a 30% increase in female self-employment since 2008, over three times that of male self-employment. How can the parties look to offer more security to the self-employed and help facilitate working parents?
Helping enable the new workforce
An increasingly digital workforce is joining the market every day, and combined with government priorities to help the nation’s smaller businesses is a desire to get more people into work. New research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (covered here in The Guardian) reveals that young workers have been some of hardest hit victims of the recession, so could a twinning of SMB priorities and the desire to address widespread youth unemployment be a double win for political parties?
Are there any other key areas that you think politicians need to focus on to win over SMBs? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!