Parliament

In the first survey of its kind, Parliamentary Snapshot has uncovered the views of MPs on polices impacting entrepreneurs.

The two main findings are:

  • MPs are split across party lines on the sorts of policies they believe would positively impact entrepreneurship in the UK;
  • MPs are unaware of many policies in place to support entrepreneurs.

The survey ( http://www.adamsmith.org/research/reports/parliamentary-snapshot-mps-on-entrepreneurship/ ) – conducted for the think tank The Entrepreneur’s Network by YouGov – finds that Conservative MPs are more likely to believe cuts to tax and regulation will improve the state of entrepreneurship in the UK, while Labour MPs are more likely to think policies that involve increases spending will improve entrepreneurship. The only policy where both sides are significantly aligned is in spending more on improving the skills of the domestic workforce (93% of Conservative MP and 89% of Labour MPs believe this would have a positive impact on entrepreneurship in the UK).

The most significant split between the two main parties is over exempting the UK from EU business regulation. While 91% of Conservative MPs think this would have a positive impact on entrepreneurial activity in the UK, just 15% of Labour MPs agree. In fact, 63% of Labour MPs think exempting the UK from EU business regulation would have a negative impact on entrepreneurial activity in the UK.

Top 3 Policy Positions: All MPs

  Policy Positive
1st Spending more on improving the skills of the domestic workforce 92%
2nd Lowering business taxes 73%
3rd Cutting UK business regulation 72%

 

Top 3 Policy Positions: Conservative MPs

  Policy Positive MPs
1st Cutting UK business regulation 98%
2nd Lowering personal taxation 94%
3rd Exempting the UK from EU business regulation 91%
3rd Lowering business taxes 91%

 

Top 3 Policy Positions: Labour MPs

  Policy Positive MPs
1st Spending more on improving the skills of the domestic workforce 93%
2nd Spending more on government support services 76%
3rd Spending more on government grants and loans 75%

 

Top Policy Splits: Labour vs. Conservative MPs

  Policy Positive Con. MPs Positive Lab. MPs Split
1st                  Exempting the UK from EU business regulation 91% 15% 76 pp
2nd Lowering personal taxes 91% 29% 62 pp
3rd                  Cutting UK business regulation 98% 42% 56 pp
4th Lowering business taxes 91% 46% 45 pp
5th Spending more on government support services 40% 76% 36 pp
6th Spending more on government grants and loans 45% 75% 30 pp

 

The Knowledge Gap

The survey also exposed a surprising lack of knowledge among MPs about the policies already in place to support entrepreneurs. Too often, over half of MPs either haven’t heard about established polices or don’t know whether they are effective.

Least Known Policies: All MPs

  Policy Never Heard of it Heard of it but don’t know whether it’s effective or not

 

Total
1st Angel CoFund 66% 8% 74%
2nd GrowthAccelerator 50% 14% 64%
3rd Tech City UK 48% 13% 61%
4th Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) 42% 13% 55%
5th Entrepreneurs’ Relief 42% 12% 54%
6th Patent Box 42% 9% 51%

 

There is a mismatch between the strength of MPs’ opinions about what would benefit entrepreneurship in the UK and their understanding of the current policies in place.

The majority of Conservative MPs believe that tax cuts would be the best way to support entrepreneurship in the UK, with 94% of Conservative MPs in favour of lowering personal taxation and 91% for lowering business taxation. However, many are unaware of the tax incentives already in place for entrepreneurs. For example, 52% of Conservative MPs either had not heard of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), or didn’t know enough about it to determine whether it is effective. (The SEIS grants individual investors up to 50% tax relief on investing in smaller companies up to a maximum of £100,000.)

Similarly, the majority of Labour MPs think spending more would be the best way to support entrepreneurship in the UK, with 76% in favour of spending more on government support services, and 75% or government grants and loans. However, many are unaware of government spending already in place. For example, 62% of Labour MPs had not heard of GrowthAccelerator, or didn’t know about it well enough to determine whether it is effective. (GrowthAccelerator is a significant programme of support, offering coaching and expert advice to help businesses attract investment, increase sales and innovate quickly.)

Commenting on the survey, Philip Salter, Director of The Entrepreneur’s Network, said:

It’s encouraging that MPs are increasingly vocal about supporting Britain’s entrepreneurs; however, the fact that they are unfamiliar with the policies already in place is worrying.

As things stand, MPs don’t appear adequately informed to vote on future policy changes impacting entrepreneurs. Also, MPs should be familiar with these schemes so that they are able to pass on details to the many entrepreneurs they meet in their constituencies.

Notes to Editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Kate Andrews, Communications Manager, at kate@adamsmith.org / 07584 778207 or Philip Salter, Director of TEN, at philip@tenentrepreneurs.org / 07919 355290.

The Entrepreneurs Network is a cross-party think tank designed to bring entrepreneurs to the forefront of political discourse and help make Britain the best place in the world to start a business.

The Entrepreneurs Network is based within the Adam Smith Institute and is supported by Octopus Investments, one of the UK’s fastest growing fund management companies specialising in smaller company investing.


YouGov polled 105 Members of Parliament, with data weighted to be representative of the House of Commons by party, gender, electoral cohort and geography. Fieldwork took place between the 7th and 19th May 2014.