Small businesses want a simpler PAYE system

A simplified payroll system tops the wish list for almost a quarter of UK SMEs, research finds. 

A simplified payroll system tops the wish list for almost a quarter of UK SMEs, research finds.

Other priorities for the next 12 months include a commitment to remain in the EU (30 per cent), a reduction in business tax rates (30 per cent) and legislation to end late payments by large companies (20 per cent), according to a study by Bibby Financial Services.

UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have laid out a manifesto of their own for the new Conservative government.

The top requests of the new government are based on research by Bibby Financial Services which polled 1,000 UK SME owners and decision makers in the three days leading up to and following the General Election.

When asked which policies they would like to see from the government over the next 12 months, 30 per cent of SMEs called for a commitment to remain in the EU.

The future of the UK’s EU membership is a higher priority for medium-sized businesses, with 34 per cent of those polled with revenue over £5 million stating that EU membership is a priority over the year ahead.

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Tax is also a clear priority for SMEs, with 30 per cent calling for a reduction in business tax rates, while 23 per cent believe a clearer outline of how much small businesses will be taxed should also be on the government’s agenda.

David Postings, UK chief executive of Bibby Financial Services says, ‘It is clear that the question of EU membership is a key concern for UK PLC. This is something the new government will need to manage carefully as uncertainty will undoubtedly affect confidence and, ultimately, economic growth.

‘How the UK’s relationship with the EU is redefined will have a real impact on the referendum. If Brussels fails to listen and act, the UK’s membership is at risk.’

Pushing through legislation in the next 12 months to tackle late payments by large companies is also high on the list for a fifth (20 per cent) of SMEs.

The continuing contest for talent was also identified as a priority with 19 per cent calling on the government to commit to building a more highly skilled workforce.

When looking at the policy environment to aid their business growth, over a quarter (27 per cent) of SMEs indicate that a reduction in small business taxes would help them to grow. This is closely followed by the need for stable interest rates and no surprises with monetary policy (26 per cent), which is a point most keenly felt by businesses with a turnover of less than £300,000.

When considering the relationship between SME businesses and policymakers, just over a third (36 per cent) agree or strongly agree that politicians understand the needs of SMEs. However, when asked whether they think politicians should stop tinkering with SME policy and to let them get on with it, just under half of business (46 per cent) agree or strongly agree.

Postings says that simplicity and stability are key requests from the UK’s SMEs for the new Conservative government to deliver on over the next 12 months, noting that with high employment but low productivity, there is a possibility that the UK could enter another recession over the next two to three years.

‘Slowing growth is a certainty borne out in the Q1 GDP figures and the Bank of England’s revised 2015 growth forecast. However, a majority government able to make strong decisions over the future of the economy is likely to reduce the risk of recession,’ he adds.

“Primarily, the new government must address the economic challenges ahead and create a stable environment for small businesses to flourish. The businesses we speak with tell us that this should encompass a reduction in the business tax rates and clarity on the tax regime over the next five years.’

The study follows a mixed performance in the first quarter across some of the UK’s leading industries. Findings from Bibby Financial Services’ Business Factors Index Q1 2015 report showed an overall drop in output among its 4,000 invoice finance clients.

Year-on-year output declined by 9 per cent during the first quarter of 2015, with decreases experienced in transport (-11 per cent) and manufacturing sectors (-5.6 per cent).

However, there is positive news in the construction sector which grew by 15 per cent year-on-year along with growth in business services (+2 per cent). has teamed up with Intuit Quickbooks to help you find the right Payroll software for your business. To find out more about getting your payroll and business finances all in one place, click here

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Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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