SMEs want more simplicity and stability

More than a quarter of SMEs say that simplifying the PAYE system should be the new government's number one immediate priority, according to a survey by Bibby Financial Services.

The invoice finance specialist asked 1,000 SME owners about their concerns for the 12 months ahead and found that PAYE reform was the biggest short-term priority for 22% of firms.

SME owners were also asked about their priorities for the next 12 months:

  • 30% want a commitment to stay in the EU
  • 30% would like a reduction in business rates
  • 20% want legislation to combat late payment.

Continued EU membership is high on the agenda of SME owners. Respondents from medium-sized businesses were especially keen for the country to remain in the union, with 34% of businesses with revenue over £5 million saying this is a major priority.

Business rates and other small business taxes are also playing on the minds of SME leaders:

  • 23% want a clearer outline of how SMEs will be taxed
  • 27% believe an overall reduction in small business taxes will help them grow.

SME owners are keen for the government to table anti-late payment legislation. Support was especially pronounced among medium-sized businesses, with 21% of firms with revenue over £5 million wanting action to be taken on late payment.

Other priorities for SMEs highlighted by the survey include:

  • maintaining a stable interest rate environment (26%)
  • increasing resources dedicated to improving skills of the workforce (19%).

David Postings, UK chief executive of Bibby Financial Services, said:

"Simplicity and stability are key requests from the UK's SMEs for the new Conservative government to deliver on over the next 12 months.

"The businesses we speak with tell us that this should encompass a reduction in the business tax rates and clarity on the tax regime over the next 5 years.

"What is clear from these findings is that a one size fits all approach is no longer acceptable when it comes to the UK's SMEs. This is evident in the differing priorities and views of businesses at the smaller and larger ends of the scale. The range and mix of those that fall under the SME category are extremely diverse, each of which face their own challenges in looking to grow."

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