The Leap 100 October Poll – Climate: Politics

Corbyn fear mars post-election Leap 100 positivity

SAYING that Jeremy Corbyn is not a hot prospect for the UK’s fast-growing businesses would be an understatement. Nearly half (46 per cent) of The Leap 100 say they would consider emigrating if the Labour leader became Prime Minister. A third say his policies would “make life much harder for [my] company” and a further 16 per cent believe Corbyn’s influence could be harmful even if he never reaches Number 10.

That said, many aren’t terribly concerned – because they think it unlikely that Corbyn will ever become Prime Minister. And at the same time, a whopping 87 per cent are more confident about their company’s prospects since the General Election.

Indeed, government policies that have concerned many UK businesses are not much of a worry for The Leap 100. Only 7 per cent of respondents think the National Living Wage will have a significant impact on their firm’s growth. And with many businesses employing high-skilled workers, just under 80 per cent aren’t expecting the policy to have any impact at all, with several hailing it as good news.

Despite this, there are still areas the government needs to pay considerably more attention to. Recommendations ranged from improving Stem learning in schools to building runways at both Heathrow and Gatwick and supporting challenger banks. Reducing national insurance and business rates came high on many businesses’ lists. Government must act to counter “exorbitant office costs in London,” says Dan Kieran of Unbound. “Rental and living costs for our staff in London will cause massive problems, too. We will leave London eventually if costs do not reduce,” he added, echoing the concerns of others.

Several respondents also highlighted that there aren’t enough tax incentives for small businesses, and stressed the importance of SEIS and EIS tax breaks. One respondent said that he’d like to see government-backed funds targeting a wider range of sectors, along with increased support for companies looking to expand overseas.

With an EU referendum looming, several voiced their concern that Britain could leave the EU. The prospect of jeopardising the single market and freedom of movement was a worry. Ruzbeh Bacha of City Falcon stressed the importance of attracting “quality talent from outside the UK to keep skilled labour costs at reasonable levels. As a fintech company, we can’t compete against salaries offered by the big banks.”

Big business came up in other regards. A couple of respondents commented that the government needs to do more to get corporations to pay their fair share of tax. Jonathan Quin, founder and chief executive of World First, said that, while he feels there’s been a “significant improvement in the public’s perception of startups, scale ups and people doing business well… there’s a falling perception of big business, particularly around areas such as tax.” Almost half The Leap 100 think anti-business sentiment is rising.

Others commented on the lack of crossover between SMEs and the corporate world. George Mackintosh of TestPlant said that, despite great work being done to enable SMEs to sell their products and services to government, “it’s time the government took a stance on encouraging UK corporates to support UK SMEs. It’s uncomfortably difficult for SMEs in the UK to do business with our own corporates.”

This article first appeared in City A.M. on Friday 23 October 2015. You can view the full City AM article here.