Conservative and Labour MPs divided over key policies to help entrepreneurs

Many MPs are unaware of existing policies which support entrepreneurship such as the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme

Members of parliament are split along party lines as to which key policies will improve the state of UK entrepreneurship, according to The Entrepreneurs Network’s annual Parliamentary Snapshot.

The survey found that Conservative MPs favour tax cuts and reduced regulation, while more Labour MPs think that increased spending will help Britain’s entrepreneurs.

The most significant difference in opinion was in response to the UK’s membership of the European Union and regulation from Brussels. The report revealed that Labour MPs are considerably more pro-Europe than Conservative MPs, despite commentators suggesting that both were equally Eurosceptic.

The vast majority (95%) of Labour MPs believe that the UK’s continued membership of the EU is a positive force for British entrepreneurship, while 58% of conservative MPs think a British exit (Brexit) would have a positive impact.

Just 1% of Labour MPs think a Brexit would be good for the country’s entrepreneurial activity.

The survey also revealed a concerning lack of knowledge among MPs from both parties about the policies already in place to support entrepreneurs, with an inconsistency between the strength of theiropinions and their understanding of current schemes.

While 86% of conservative MPs are in favour of lowering personal taxation, and 89% of lowering business taxation, 56% either hadn’t heard of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) (38%), or didn’t know enough about it to decide whether it was effective (18%).

Similarly, while 63% of Labour MPs are in favour of spending more on government grants and loans, and 61% on government support services, many are not aware of the government spending policies which have already been implemented. 61% had not heard of Innovate UK – a government body which runs competitions for up to £536m funding.

Philip Salter, director of The Entrepreneur’s Network, commented: “It’s encouraging that MPs are increasingly vocal about supporting Britain’s entrepreneurs, and they are right that improving the skills of the domestic workforce would have a positive impact on entrepreneurial activity in Britain. Too often entrepreneurs struggle to access the talent they need for their businesses to prosper.

Hollie Gallagher, head of entrepreneurs at Bircham Dyson Bell – which supported the survey – added:

“It is concerning that MPs are not as well informed as they could be about important government schemes to support UK entrepreneurs. Fast-growing small firms are vital to our economy: they generated 36% of UK economic growth between 2012 and 2013 and created 68% of all new jobs. Great initiatives already exist for start-ups, but steps need to be taken to promote them and ensure that these businesses continue to thrive.”

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