Thursday 16 May 2019 12:09 am

Two-thirds of small businesses say government is not on their side, new poll reveals

Two-thirds of small businesses do not feel the government is on their side, a new survey has revealed in a report calling for a radical shake-up of the tax system.

A YouGov poll for the Centre of Policy Studies think-tank shows 62 per cent of small business owners and managers don’t believe those in power are backing them to succeed.

The findings are part of a report by Nick King, former special adviser at Sajid Javid when he was business secretary, which calls for a bonfire of red tape for those firms with an annual turnover of less than £1million.

For those companies, corporation tax, business rates, VAT and Employer’s National Insurance would all be replaced with a levy on turnover – dubbed the Simple Consolidated Tax (SCT).

The report was welcomed by Javid, who said: “Small businesses are the engine of the British economy and the millions of people who run businesses up and down the country deserve the Government's full support.

“This report shows how bureaucracy and paperwork are stifling the growth of our small businesses and offers a series of compelling ideas for how Government can roll back the tide and show that the Conservatives are backing entrepreneurs."

The Tories’ reputation as the party of business has taken a knock since the Brexit referendum, with former foreign secretary Boris Johnson reported to have said “f*ck business” when confronted with concerns raised by elements of the sector over the government’s negotiating stance.

That prompted former CBI chief Digby Jones to dub Johnson as “irrelevant and offensive” during a speech at the Conservative party conference in September last year.

Prime Minister Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond have sought to woo the business community with a series of roundtables and conference calls at various points of the Brexit process.

The YouGov poll shows the party still has a way to go to convince businesses the Tories are on their side.

Reflecting on the report, Andy Street, the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands and former managing director of John Lewis, said: “I strongly urge the Government to examine the central recommendation, The Simple Consolidated Tax, which would offer a significant simplification of the tax landscape for small firms, and many of the other ideas in this report would be hugely welcome.”