The forthcoming General Election does not just give the political parties an opportunity to come up with their plans and priorities for the medium term. It is also the ideal time for individuals, businesses and trade associations to set out their stalls and let everyone know what they see as the key issues over the next few years.

According to research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), there is a common theme being expressed by entrepreneurs and SMEs in the North East – more than 50 percent said that regional growth needs to be a priority for the incoming government.

Battling to Survive

The FSB reported that while there are more small business start ups than ever before, long-term survival is increasingly difficult. Specialist management consultants such as Global Resources LLC have noticed the same thing – surging costs, increasing competition and broader economic concerns over Brexit mean that it is a constant battle for small businesses to remain afloat.

Of all these concerns, increasing costs and tax burdens are the biggest headache that Federation members will need the new government to address.

The Small Business Manifesto

The FSB has published its own manifesto, entitled “Small Business: Big Ambition,” in which it calls on the next Government, whatever its political leaning, to focus on building better opportunities in the North East and beyond, through an Industrial Strategy that has the needs of small businesses at its heart.

It also calls for better investment in digital connectivity and transportation infrastructure, as well as seeking to protect the state pension system.

In addition, it focuses on the needs of the self employed, campaigning against social security inequalities and promoting childcare reforms that would make it easier for hard working entrepreneurs to achieve that all-important work / life balance.

The Voice of Business

The FSB is effectively the mouthpiece of hundreds of small businesses in the North East, and it has become influential, particularly since Brexit. Its political clout was brought into sharp focus when it successfully took on government ministers over proposals to increase tax rates for the self employed in the 2017 budget.

At a time when the political difference between hero and zero comes down to a cross on a ballot paper, the campaigning parties should disregard this powerful voice at their peril.