Just days before Australians go to the polls, a new survey shows 10% of business leaders remain undecided about which party has the best policies for the small and medium sized business (SME) sector.
According to the national survey commissioned by Australia’s leading non-bank business lender, ScotPac, 53% of SMEs believe the Coalition has better polices to support the sector, compared to 35% for Labor.
However, 45% of smaller businesses (revenue between $1m and $5 million) – which is representative of the majority of Australia’s 2.4 million trading businesses – think Labor has the better policies, compared to 42% for the Coalition.
Support for the Coalition is strongest among larger SMEs (revenue between $5 – $20 million) with 66% of these companies favouring Coalition policies compared to 24% for Labor.
SME Election Policy Priorities
According to the survey, the top issues that SMEs want an incoming Federal Government to address include further extension of the accelerated deprecation scheme (24.3%), deeper company tax cut relief (18.5%) and simplified Business Activity Statement (BAS) and regulatory requirements (17.7%)
16.7% of SME leaders also independently nominated better targeting of public sector expenditure as critically important to their operations.
CEO of ScotPac, Jon Sutton said the high number of undecided SMEs about the election represented a clear opportunity for both major parties to make their pitch to businesses in the final days of the campaign.
“There is still a window of opportunity for political parties to sharpen and sell their message to Australia’s SME sector, which is a critical driver of employment and economic activity in this country,’ Mr Sutton said.
‘The feedback on policy priorities is consistent with what SMEs tell us every day. Excessive regulation and compliance requirements are a hand brake on small business and the economy.
‘SMEs want Government policy support, rather than handouts, to let them focus on running their businesses and employing people. That must be a priority for whoever forms Government,” Mr Sutton said.
The policy priority insights were provided by more than 700 small business leadersas part of ScotPac’s bi-annual SME Growth Index, Australia’s longest running research report on small business sentiment towards growth prospects.
The full report, which is scheduled for release early next month, also incorporates feedback from industry participants on topics like revenue forecasts and profit expectations, cashflow management practices, and growth financing intentions. It is a comprehensive temperature check of a sector responsible for employing millions of Australians.
The past few editions of ScotPac’s SME Growth Index have provided policymakers with a window into how small and medium businesses were managing and feeling about the general trading environment and their growth prospects during COVID-19.
The timing of this edition provided an opportunity to investigate and report on the sentiment of small and medium businesses in the thick of a tight and critical election campaign.
ScotPac is Australia and New Zealand’s largest non-bank SME business lender, providing funding to small, medium and large businesses from start-ups to enterprises exceeding $1 billion revenues. For more than 30 years ScotPac has helped thousands of business owners succeed, offering fast and flexible funding. From simple to complex, small to large, start up, growth or turnaround – ScotPac can help with a range of funding from Invoice, Trade or Asset Finance to Home Loans and Business Loans.
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 Research fieldwork included interviews with 717 SMEs (A$1-20 million annual enterprise turnover) across the country, with an average of13.7 years in business, in the four weeks to 19 April 2022.
 ABS, ‘Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits’, released 24/08/2021