MPs in the dark about key policies helping entrepreneurs


The Entrepreneurs Network has released its 2015 Parliamentary Snapshot, which provides insights into the views of MPs about entrepreneurship, and gives the entrepreneurial community a useful perspective on the legislative landscape. The first main finding is that many views on policy that would impact entrepreneurs are firmly set by party lines. Take, for example, membership of the EU: 58% of Conservative MPs think Brexit would be good for entrepreneurial activity, but only 1% of Labour MPs think likewise. This is a key finding with broader repercussions: some political commentators have claimed that Labour MPs are as Eurosceptic as Conservative MPs, but this suggests that Labour MPs see the benefits of continued membership while Conservative MPs see opportunities for leaving – at least when it comes to entrepreneurship. This is reinforced by MPs' views of the impact of EU business regulation: 90% of Conservative MPs think exempting the UK from EU business regulation would be positive for entrepreneurs, but only 10% of Labour MPs agree.

This isn't to say that Labour and Conservative MPs are at complete loggerheads when it comes to pro-entrepreneurial policy: 80% of Conservative MPs and 66% of Labour MPs agree that making it easier for entrepreneurs to move to the UK would benefit the UK's entrepreneurial landscape. In fact, this was the second most popular policy across the House of Commons.

The second main finding regards MPs knowledge of existing initiatives to support entrepreneurs in the UK. This year's Parliamentary Snapshot gives us a woeful image of an under-informed legislative body. Although Conservative MPs are in favour of tax cuts, most were unaware of the tax incentives already in place - for example, the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme. Most Labour MPs support increased spending to support entrepreneurs, but are oblivious to initiatives, like Innovate UK, already in place.

This has consequences for MPs' sense of how effective these initiatives are. Many in the entrepreneurial community see the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) as essential to the UK's entrepreneurial success – but Conservative MPs' support for the scheme dropped from 68% last year to 45% this year, with the remainder largely unaware of it. This policy is widely lauded by entrepreneurs who have raised funds to grow their business.

It's clear that entrepreneurs need to be more vocal about what works for them, so that MPs are better informed about the challenges the community faces and why supporting entrepreneurs is so essential to support the British economy. To this end, over the coming months and years, The Entrepreneurs Network will ensure that entrepreneurs' preferences are heard loud and clear in corridors of power and beyond. If MPs don't know what policies work best on the ground, there's a serious risk they'll scrap the policies that have made Britain one of the best places in the world to start a business.