Cameron vs Miliband – who boasts the best policies for small businesses?

The gloves are off and the two major parties are fighting over business. But as trash talk of ‘dodgy’ Tory donors and Miliband’s lack of business backing sees the bout enter its final round, who serves small firms’ needs best?

We are just over 10 weeks away from the General Election and the polls are showing that it is the most unpredictable in decades.

With the economy playing a central role in the campaign, prime minister David Cameron and his opposite number Ed Miliband want to emphasise their respective pro-business policies in the hope of swaying swing voters.

The big fight statistics

50% Small and mid-sized businesses are responsible for nearly 50% of private sector employment and provide a third of private sector turnover in the UK economy. So it is no wonder that a key battle in the election will be which party is most supportive of small businesses.

15.2 million According to the Federation of Small Businesses, at the start of 2014 small and mid-sized firms employed 15.2 million people.

£1.6 trillion The combined turnover of these businesses is around £1.6 trillion.

Given these figures it’s no surprise Miliband and Cameron are desperate to show their party understands the important influence of small and growing businesses on the UK economy in a continuously evolving business environment.

The big fight policy battleground

Help to Grow: Cameron’s ‘help to grow’ scheme, promises to pledge £1bn to help 500 fast growing firms cross the ‘valley of death funding’ gap and secure financial support to leap from small to medium size.

This new policy echoes Germany’s thriving mid-market known as Mittelstand, which has been increasingly credited by economists and historians alike as the reason for the country’s successful growth since the beginning of the 20th Century.

Red Tape: A key issue for small businesses is the impact of red tape and the daily battle entrepreneurs face against the negative effects of business regulation on enterprise, which hinders entrepreneurial activity and in turn company growth.

Cameron recently stated he wanted to “get out of the way of small business success” and has claimed to have already cut 800 regulations that affect these businesses and will continue to remove a further 3,000 rules, saving more than £850m a year.

This reduced administrative burden will mean small and growth businesses can concentrate their time and resources on growth, creating more jobs and revitalising the UK’s economic landscape.

While the Prime Minister’s record speaks for itself Ed Miliband cannot afford to be branded anti-business in an election year.

Small Business Rates: While big corporates are lining up to bash the two Ed’s, the Labour Party has sought to improve their pro-business credentials by offering a series of policies designed to benefit smaller businesses such as reversing a planned hike in small business rates and freeze the levy for the following year.

Regional banks and government procurement: They have also promised a new system of regional banks to support small business and will ensure that 25% of government procurement is from small and mid-sized businesses and will establish a Small Business Administration at the heart of government.

I have created a website http://cameron-vs-miliband.com which allows users to freely and openly debate which party has the best policies. In terms of Business and Enterprise, Cameron is leading.

In my opinion the Conservative Party election offer is the clear winner for small and mid-sized businesses but they must not rest on their laurels and must continue to show their support for entrepreneurial risk taking Britain.

At the British Chambers of Commerce 2015 conference David Cameron reiterated that “SME’s are the engine room for growth” which highlights his party’s priority and support for the UK’s vital small and Mittelstand business sector.

Let’s hope he delivers on this support.

William Berry is a serial entrepreneur and in 2006 was named a Young Gun by Growing Business. He is the founder-director of accommodationforstudents.com, and Vincentbond.com. William is also CEO of the new video start up p6.com, based in California.

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