Across the Pond: What Do Small Businesses Want?

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federation-small-biz.jpgIt's deja vu all over again. Or nothing new under the sun . . . ? If you read the political manifestos from the three major parties (Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats), you'd almost swear you were right at home . . .

I was curious to know where the different parties stood regarding legislation affecting small businesses. So Ron Beadle pointed me to the website of the UK's Federation of Small Businesses--somewhat akin to our National Federation of Independent Business.

Here are the main issues that small businesses are wrestling with: Taxes

Employment

Flexible working and child-care arrangements

Business regulation

Environment/green issues

Local business incentives

The FSB website posted both the manifestos and the summaries on its site (how wonderfully helpful), which I had the chance to, er, skim.  :-) What's surprising is not the ways that the political parties disagree (nu? You'd expect that). But I found intriguing the ways in which they agree. For example:

  • They agree on the need to enhance access to capital for small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), although they disagree on how best to do that.
  • They agree that forced retirement at 65 should be abolished, but disagree on what else (if anything) should replace it.
  • They agree that workers need to be able to request flexible work arrangements from their employers and reduce the stigma of requesting parental leave, although they disagree on the time frame for leave.
  • They agree on the need to reduce the cost of regulations, but disagree on whether this will be handled best by "sunset" provisions or otherwise.
  • They agree on improving the railroad infrastructure--whether for reasons of economy, traffic flow or environmental concerns.
  • They agree that crime prevention is a key component to strengthening SMEs and that more police on the beat are needed.

What would you say are the top policy issues for your federal government?

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