SME dissatisfaction with Govt grows

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Despite measures in the Budget to support small businesses, the Government’s appeal to the SME sector appears to be falling short according to a new survey.

The latest MYOB business Monitor Survey, a biannual survey of more than 1000 SMEs, found the proportion of SMEs that are dissatisfied with the level of support from the Federal Government outweighs those that are satisfied.

The number of SMEs dissatisfied with the Federal Government increased from 26% in October 2015 to 32% in April 2016, while those that are satisfied has fallen over the last six months from 30% to 20%.

Despite this, the survey indicates the Turnbull Government remains more popular than its Labor predecessor. Since the Coalition was elected in September 2014, the level of satisfaction has ranged between 23% and 30% – which was more favourable than in the prior four years – however, is now at its lowest level.

But it seems the negativity isn’t just reserved for the Federal Government – dissatisfaction with the level of support from state governments has also increased, from 30% in October 2015 to 38% in April.

MYOB CEO, Tim Reed, highlights that while the Federal Government has announced significant policies to support SMEs, as well as a strong business focus in the election campaign, the Government’s message does not appear to be resonating strongly.

“After seeing an improvement in perceptions over the last year and a half, we now see that small business operators are feeling less supported by their governments,” explains Reed.

“Small businesses operators are the backbone of the nation and their views will be closely monitored by all politicians in the final weeks before the election.”

However, Reed notes it wasn’t all bad news for the Government.

“There were a number of bright spots including a more positive view by younger business owners (dissatisfaction of 22% in Gen Y compared to 37% for baby-boomers) and sole traders (dissatisfaction of 29% compared to 45% for small business),” he adds.

So what would SMEs vote for? According to the survey, 68% of respondents said making the $20,000 instant asset tax write-off a permanent policy was the number one initiative they would vote for.

“It was positive to see the Federal Government increase the eligibility to $10 million for those who are able to access the instant asset write-off, but it’s disappointing that this policy is set to end on 30 June 2017,” says Reed.

“The results from the Business Monitor show that SMEs are calling for the Federal Government to make this permanent.”

Additional key policies attractive to the SME sector include assigning a proportion of Government procurement contracts to small businesses (58%), the establishment of an incentive bonus for businesses employing people over age 50 (57%), and increased Federal Government funding for skills, training and apprenticeship programs (54%).

“With the Government’s recent investment in the youth employment scheme, PaTH Initiative, it’s interesting to see that a majority of SME owners would also be interested in an incentive bonus for employing people over the age of 50. This would be beneficial to baby boomers who are looking to return to the Australian workforce,” Reed concludes.

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