Thumbs down for Brown from SMEs

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Gordon Brown is going to need a lot of spadework if he’s going to recover the credibility he lost with his vacillation over the general election. A new study shows that his popularity with small and medium-sized business owners – a community he has assiduously courted – is currently at an all-time low.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

A substantial 71% of small and medium-sized business owners and managers now think Brown and Alistair Darling are bad news for UK enterprise, according to a survey by research consultancy FreshMinds.

Nearly half of respondents were pessimistic about the economy’s prospects for the next 12 months, while not surprisingly, the changes to the capital gains tax regime have lost the pair a lot of friends – 54% reckon the changes will have a negative impact.

Worryingly, some SME managers seems to think that running a business is now more trouble than it’s worth. 35% reckon they’d rather be an employee than an employer at the moment, and respondents seemed more preoccupied with the shortcomings of the current government than the kind of day-to-day business issues that would normally be top of the agenda.

Tax increases are always going to be unpopular, but it’s clear that Brown and Darling need to do something to restore confidence at the smaller end of the business scale. As entrepreneurs often tell us, it’s not just the abolition of taper relief that’s caused this level of dissatisfaction – it’s also the increase in red tape and the lower-profile stealth taxes that have been creeping in during Labour’s tenure.

So unless the prime minister is happy to swell the burgeoning ranks of Tory voters, he’s got a lot of work to do in the next 18 months or so…

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