The policy business owners would most like to see introduced by the next Government is the easing of trade barriers with the European Union, shows a new survey just completed from accountants and business advisors Moore UK.

Moore UK’s survey shows that 39% of business owners want to see less friction in EU trade, the highest percentage of any option. The survey also reveals that 38% of respondents who would like the new Government to cut VAT and 33% who said they would like to see a cut in corporation tax.

Moore UK chair, Matt Meadows, has noted that many businesses are still struggling with trade barriers following the UK leaving the EU. This has led to higher costs for those that rely on trade with EU customers, while others have ceased trading with the EU.

Meadows said: “With small business owners making a huge contribution to the UK economy, it is imperative the next Government prioritises their needs. If it can reduce trade friction, particularly for SMEs, it will win over a large group of business owners.

“A lot of business owners also believe that a reduction in VAT would be a quick and effective short cut to reducing prices and stimulating greater consumer spending.

“The UK has more than 5.6million businesses, making business owners a vital voter group in this election. Regardless of who wins, it is vital for the next Government to support businesses as the economy continues to struggle. The pressures on businesses are still massive – from interest rates to trade barriers, skill shortages and low consumer spending.

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“Small business owners are looking to the next Prime Minister to make major changes to ease the enormous pressures they have faced since the last election. The cost of debt has pushed a lot of smaller businesses far too close to insolvency. A focus on economic growth should now be a priority.”

The next most popular policies in Moore UK’s survey of business owners were a cut in income tax (33%) and cuts to regulations and ‘red tape’ (32%).

‘Absenteeism crisis’ bites for UK businesses – 42% have seen increased staff absences in past year

Moore UK’s survey also shows that the ‘absenteeism crisis’ is affecting UK businesses, with 42% of business owners reporting that they have seen staff absenteeism rise in the past year.

Only 25% of businesses report that they have experienced no issues in recruiting and retaining staff. 44% report struggles in recruiting and retaining workers have meant that existing staff have seen increased workloads, up from 28% in the same survey in 2023.

21% of business owners say difficulties in recruitment and retention have led directly to them not hitting growth targets, while 20% have had to turn down new work.

Meadows concluded: “Struggles with staffing are one of the major issues affecting UK businesses in 2024. Developing a strong, positive workplace culture and making the value of working there clear to workers can help ease that burden.”