Most politicians oblivious to policies that back entrepreneurs

16 July 2015 -


MPs are overwhelmingly in the dark about government initiatives designed to support enterprise, research shows

Jermaine Haughton

The majority of UK MPs don’t know enough about government schemes to invest in enterprise to hold informed views on the issue, according to new research. Published by the Entrepreneur’s Network, in partnership with YouGov, the report – 2015 Parliamentary Snapshot: MPs on Entrepreneurshipfound that more than half (56%) of Tories either haven’t heard of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (38%), or didn’t have sufficient information to say whether or not it was effective (18%).

Nonetheless, Conservatives hold strong views that lower taxation is the right method of aiding and supporting the rise in entrepreneurship across Britain, with 89% of Tory MPs supporting a reduction in business levies. Just 1% of their Labour counterparts support this policy.

Instead, the study shows, 61% of Labour MPs want greater spending on government grants and loans to boost UK enterprise. However, that doesn’t show that the Parliamentary Labour ranks are any better informed than those on the Tory benches. For example, 61% of Labour MPs either haven’t heard of the acclaimed Innovate UK initiative, which runs competitions for government funding, or haven’t a firm enough grasp on its performance to express an opinion.

Entrepreneurs Network programmes director Annabel Denham stressed that more MPs must build up their knowledge and views of enterprise and its challenges to help nurture a strong startup community.

Writing in City AM, she said: “Such strong opinions are vital if the UK is to create a better environment for entrepreneurs: we want our politicians to analyse and scrutinise the multiple, competing policy options open to them. But they jar with the lack of awareness of initiatives already in place.

“We cannot expect MPs to know about every policy, but too often they are inadequately informed to vote on changes affecting entrepreneurs. We need more knowledgeable MPs, and a more vocal entrepreneurial community to tell them which initiatives are working on the ground.”

Greater investment on the skills of the domestic workforce emerged as area of agreement between the two leading parties, with 85% support from Tories and 93% from Labour. Similarly, allowing entrepreneurs to move to the UK is backed by 80% of Tories and 66% of their left-centre opponents.

However, the biggest divergence in policies between the two parties arose in response to the UK’s membership of the European Union, and regulations stemming from Brussels. While 58% of Conservative MPs believe a “Brexit” – a British withdrawal from the EU – would have a positive impact on UK enterprise, the vast majority (95%) of their Labour counterparts believe it would have the opposite effect.

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