SMEs still undecided as polls draw near

Australia federal election, election issues

Days before Australians go to the polls, a national survey commissioned by non-bank business lender ScotPac reveals that there is a split between small and medium-sized enterprises over who is the best option to run the economy.

The research tells us 53 per cent of medium-sized enterprise leaders believe that the Coalition has better policies to support the sector, compared to 35 per cent for Labor. However, 45 per cent of smaller businesses (those with a revenue between $1m and $5 million), who make up the majority of Australia’s 2.4 million trading businesses, think Labor has the better policies, compared to 42 per cent for the Coalition.

Support for the Coalition is strongest among larger SMEs (revenue between $5 – $20 million) with 66 per cent of these companies favouring Coalition policies compared to 24 per cent for Labor.

The survey also revealed that 10 per cent of SME leaders remain undecided about which party has the best policies for the sector, which ScotPac points out is a higher proportiuion thatn as the same stage in previous election campaigns.

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,” 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’ election 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 per cent), deeper company tax cut relief (18.5 per cent) and simplified Business Activity Statement (BAS) and regulatory requirements (17.7 per cent) 16.7 per cent of SME leaders also say that better targeting of public sector expenditure is critically important to their operations.

“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,” Sutton said.

The insights were provided by more than 700 small-business leaders as part of ScotPac’s bi-annual SME Growth Index, Australia’s longest-running research report on small business sentiment. The full report, which is scheduled for release early next month, also incorporates feedback from industry participants on topics such as revenue forecasts and profit expectations, cashflow management practices, and growth financing intentions.