Late payment and tax relief the big issues for small companies pre-election

Businesses also want to remain in the EU and are largely backing the Conservatives in the forthcoming election, research finds.

Late payment by customers remains the biggest headache for businesses, while increasing tax relief on investment should be the next government’s top priority in terms of helping SMEs, according to a survey by recruitment firm Alexander Daniels.

The study also finds overwhelming support for the UK’s continued membership of the EU – with none of the survey respondents supporting outright withdrawal.   

Businesses are firmly behind the Conservatives ahead of the General Election, with 82 per cent of respondents saying that they would vote Conservative if they had a vote on 7th May, with 9 per cent favouring Labour.

Companies across a range of sectors named late payment as being the biggest challenge they had faced over the past five years, being cited by 36 per cent, followed by skills shortages (27 per cent).

Nick Pearce, director at Alexander Daniels says that late payment probably causes business owners more sleepless nights than anything else.

‘Recent figures showed that more than three quarters of businesses are being forced to wait at least a month beyond their agreed contract terms before getting paid – hitting cash flow just as the UK economy emerges into full recovery,’ he adds.

‘Although the current government has made some attempts to ease the problem it clearly remains a major headache, along with long-standing skills shortages and the dearth of high quality people in the labour market.’

When asked which single measure would they most like to see introduced by the next government after May 7th, a third highlight increased tax relief on investment, closely followed by reform of the UK’s complex tax system and improvements to road, rail and air infrastructure.

With a referendum on the UK’s continuing membership of the EU potentially in the offing, the survey shows unanimous support for the UK continuing to remain part of the EU, but with 69 per cent supporting a re-negotiation of our terms of membership.

‘The results of our survey are unequivocal – membership of the EU is vital to the UK’s prosperity and there is no appetite among businesses for withdrawal,’ says Pearce. ‘When it comes to the election, most SMEs in our survey take a dispassionate view and agree with Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, that the economic medicine administered over the past five years has worked, and that the Conservatives are the safest pair of hands when it comes to managing the recovery.’

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