Millions of small business votes are up for grabs

Written by: Rachel Miller

Date: 11 June 2024

Two female entrepreneurs weigh up which polical party they will vote for in the general election

Two new polls have found that many freelancers and small business owners have yet to decide how they will vote in the general election on 4 July.

A survey of 1,750 UK small business owners and self-employed workers by Simply Business has found that the Labour Party is currently perceived as the party that is most supportive of small business interests. However, 80% of those polled say they have yet to fully decide how they will cast their vote on 4 July - equating to 4.4 million undecided voters in the small business community.

When asked which party currently represents the best interests of small businesses, 38% said Labour, 22% said Conservative, 11% named the Reform Party, 7% preferred the Liberal Democrats and 6% named the Green Party.

Almost half (47%) of SME owners say that a change in government would make them more hopeful about the future of their business, while well over a third (37%) say they don't think it would make a difference.

"The UK's 5.5 million small businesses are an essential part of our collective economic stability. Their importance - and the power of their votes - cannot be underestimated. Party leaders now have an opportunity to appeal directly to the almost four and a half million UK small business owners who say they'd consider voting for a different party if it placed more importance on the needs of small businesses. Their message is clear: put small businesses at the centre of our economic plan by tackling their challenges head-on. In doing so, candidates will be appealing not just to our country's SME owners, but to an extended pool of voters - the families of small business owners and those who rely on SMEs for their employment." Bea Montoya, coo at Simply Business UK.

Small business owners yet to make up their mind

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has also conducted a snap election poll that shows that the majority of the UK's 5.5 million small business votes are still up for grabs. The findings indicate that 96% of small business owners plan to vote but more than half have not yet made a final decision on who they will vote for.

One in five (20%) small business owners have yet to decide which party they will choose, while a further one in three (33%) say they have a good idea who they will vote for but could still change their mind.

Small business owners are worried about a number of key issues:

  • 90% say they are concerned that the next government will put up their taxes.
  • 92% are worried that a future government could increase the costs and risks associated with employing people.
  • 53% say they are concerned about small business energy costs over the next five years.
  • 61% are concerned about the level of inflation over the next five years.

"Small business owners and the self-employed are a shrewd and motivated part of the electorate," said FSB policy chair, Tina McKenzie. "They're used to weighing up competing offers when running their businesses, and it's clear from our research that when it comes to the election, they're looking for which of the parties has the most compelling pro-small business offer. We're looking to all of those seeking to form the next government to show their commitment to the millions of hard-working voters who run their own businesses, including through a Small Business Act so we have new legislation to protect small businesses on crucial issues such as late payment."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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