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Half of Conservative MPs think Brexit would be good for entrepreneurs

Over half (58%) of Conservative MPs think a Brexit would be good for entrepreneurial activity in the UK, The Entrepreneurs Network’s annual Parliamentary Snapshot has revealed.

This compares to just 1% of Labour MPs that think a Brexit would have a strongly positive impact on UK entrepreneurial activity.

Additionally as many as 90% of Conservative MPs think exempting the UK from EU business regulation would have a positive impact on entrepreneurial activity in the UK. Just 10% of Labour MPs agree.

The Knowledge Gap

The Snapshot also exposes a worrying lack of knowledge among MPs about the policies already in place to support entrepreneurs.

Too often, MPs are in the dark about established initiatives – or if they have heard of them, they don’t know enough to decide whether they are effective. T

here is also a discrepancy 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 offer one of the best ways to support entrepreneurship in the UK, with 86% of Conservative MPs in favour of lowering personal taxation and 89% for lowering business taxation. However, many are unaware of the tax incentives already in place for entrepreneurs.

Over half of Conservative MPs, 56%, either hadn’t heard of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (38%), or didn’t know enough about it to decide whether it was effective (18%).

And just 45% of Conservative MPs are in favour of the Enterprise Investment scheme, down from 68% last year. Both these initiatives offer tax relief to investors in smaller companies, and are rightly seen by many in the startup community as essential to the UK’s entrepreneurial success.

Similarly, many Labour MPs think spending more would be the best way to support entrepreneurship in the UK, with 63% in favour of spending more on government grants and loans, and 61% on government support services.

However, many are unaware of government spending already in place. For example, 61% of Labour MPs had not heard of Innovate UK (which supports entrepreneurs by running competitions for up to £536m government funding), or didn’t know about it well enough to determine whether it is effective.

Philip Salter, director of The Entrepreneur’s Network, said: “It’s encouraging that MPs are increasingly vocal about supporting Britain’s entrepreneurs, and they are right that improving the skills of the domestic workforce would have a positive impact on entrepreneurial activity in Britain.

“Too often entrepreneurs struggle to access the talent they need for their businesses to prosper.

 

“But perhaps most interesting is the survey’s revelation that Labour MPs are strongly in favour of remaining in the EU and adhering to its regulations.

“This comes at a time when some say the current of leftwing Euroscepticism is re-emerging. Just last month, a group of Labour MPs set up Labour for Britain to push for the renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with the EU, and support an Out vote in the referendum if demands are not met. Yet our survey found that 95% of Labour MPs think leaving the EU would have a negative impact on entrepreneurial activity in the UK.

“And just 10% think exempting the UK from EU business regulation would have a positive impact on activity.”

Simon Rogerson, chief executive of Octopus Investments (a founding supporter of The Entrepreneurs Network), added: “This year’s Parliamentary Snapshot identifies a particular blind spot on SEIS and EIS, two of the UK’s most successful policies for helping small, risk taking companies to grow.

“Entrepreneurs need policies in place that really work, so clearly there is a need to help MPs understand how well these established initiatives perform for both investors and the businesses funded by them.

“High growth small businesses are extremely valuable to the UK in terms of job creation, wealth generation and economic growth.

“We must help MPs bridge the knowledge gap highlighted by this report, so that they support policies that will help secure the UK’s strong reputation for fostering entrepreneurship.”

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