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What do small firms want from the 2024 General Election?

“Things can only get better”? Small businesses will certainly be hoping that the General Election brings positive change to a beleaguered marketplace. But exactly what are firms looking for?

While the calling of a General Election often brings processes and projects to a halt, as parties focus on campaigning, it also brings promises of reform and improvement. Over 16 million small business voters will be listening carefully.

What will these voters be listening for? The bottom line is meaningful change. Recent years have witnessed a litany of programmes, projects, reviews, consultations, reboots, restarts and renewals that have delivered little or no change. Firms want impact. They want strategies and policies that will help turn today’s green shoots into sustained growth.

Where do small firms want to see change?

Where to start? Late payment is a good an issue as any. There has never been any shortage of big statements and grand plans, but in reality, progress has been glacial. Fixing this problem would help ease pressure on cash flow, bring greater security and free up capital for vital investment.

Business rates is another long-standing issue that needs to be properly addressed. Pro-business reform that will help stimulate forward momentum is desperately needed to help reinvigorate the small business sector, in particular for firms with brick and mortar stores in town centres and on much-maligned high-streets.

In a similar vein, small businesses would benefit from a simpler tax system – one that makes making submissions and paying what is owed less onerous. Tax advisors provide important services but it shouldn’t be necessary for every small firm in every situation to have to go this expense, in particular given the current state of the market.

With worrying about managing cash flow and paying bills in mind, small businesses would welcome a greater focus on health and wellbeing, for everyone from employees to managers and owners. For a business to thrive, it needs to have a fit and functioning workforce, and putting in place measures that safeguard mental and physical health are key to ensuring this. The General Election is an opportunity to support this evolution.

Nurturing new growth and how alternative lenders can help

Late payment, business rates, tax regimes, health and wellbeing – this is only scratching the surface – but the message is clear: there is a chance to make changes that will have a real impact.

And a big part of this change is easing pressure on cash flow and freeing up capital for investment. Given what firms have been through in recent years, it is no surprise that a reboot seems attractive, whatever form it takes. But it remains to be seen what promises are made and what promises are kept. And firms will be keenly aware of this reality. This is why awareness of alternative finance is important.

Services such as invoice finance, asset finance and peer-to-peer lending are proving a vital source of capital for small businesses in the current funding climate (with 65% more SMEs experiencing difficulty in accessing finance from high-street banks). These alternative finance facilities, which offer a more easily accessible, affordable and personalised approach to lending, are helping small businesses survive and target recovery, stability and growth.

This profile has helped cement the reputation of alternative finance in the business sector. According to the British Business Bank, it is alternative lenders that are increasing filling the small business funding gap, with asset finance alone rising by 7% to £23.5 billion in 2023. At the same time, a 2024 study shows that more and more SMEs are turning to alternative lenders to access larger-scale finance packages.

Small firm finance options for making investment possible

Small businesses will undoubtedly look at the General Election an opportunity for meaningful change – actions that produce results rather than just empty words and half-baked schemes.

But at the same time, firms won’t be betting the house on the result of the vote bringing in the reforms they want. With sustained economic growth a real possibility, this underlines the importance of being aware of all the finance options available, including the services of alternative lenders.

To find out more about A&T Business Associates services, contact Steve Bowles on 01903 602211 or steve.bowles@atbusinessassociates.co.uk.

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