As the Spring Budget looms on 6 March, a new survey from SME funder, Bibby Financial Services (BFS), indicates a shift in political preferences among UK small and medium-sized enterprises.

The study, based on a comprehensive poll of 1,000 SME owners and decision-makers across diverse sectors including manufacturing, construction, wholesale, transport, and services, sheds light on evolving sentiments.

The data, researched by independent specialists, Critical Research, from 23 January to 2 February 2024, reveals that 37 per cent of UK SMEs view the Labour Party as the political entity that best serves the interests of businesses.

This marks an increase from the Autumn 2023 figure of 33 per cent.

Conversely, support for the Conservatives has diminished, with 22 per cent identifying them as the party for business, down from 26 per cent in the previous autumn.

As the UK economy shows signs of recovery and increased SME confidence compared to the same period a year ago, 61 per cent of businesses anticipate a surge in sales over the coming months, up from 54% in Q1 2023.

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The survey also highlights a general dissatisfaction with all political parties, as one in five (20%) SMEs remain unable to pinpoint a favoured political group.

When considering desired government measures and reforms, 61% of SMEs express the need for additional tax incentives, such as reduced corporation tax and business rates.

Jonathan Andrew, CEO of Bibby Financial Services, acknowledges the growing optimism among small businesses. However, he emphasises that despite policies introduced in the autumn, such as freezing business rates and late payment reforms, the Conservative Party has not yet won over the SME population.

He said: “Our SMEs are ambitious and resourceful, so with a general election on the horizon, the Government should use the Spring Budget to inspire the UK’s SME community and present a convincing vision for growth.”