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Small business unimpressed by lack of Government help

The economic picture remains changeable. Public-sector spending is facing the axe, and the Government is banking on the private sector to drive the economy forward.

But is it doing enough to aid the small-and medium-sized enterprises that are key to private-sector strength? If the results of a new survey of more than 1,500 SMEs are anything to go by, the answer is an emphatic no.

Less than a quarter of the UK business owners surveyed for the latest International Business Index, complied by the software group Sage, thought the Government was doing enough to provide support and advice for those starting a business.

Worse still, only 14% said the Government's information and advice was something they would count on.

Indeed, the lack of credibility is such that 46% of respondents said they had resorted to doing their own leg-work and relied on the internet for information and advice.

The Government also wins little credit when it comes to bureaucracy and legislation, on which nearly 60% expressed an unfavourable view.

Elsewhere, 40% were unimpressed when it came to the ease of access to capital and funding in the UK; when Sage questioned SMEs in other countries, including Canada, the comparable figure was almost half that for UK companies, with only 21% expressing a negative view.

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One UK small business said: “Small business in the UK is strangled by the banks' refusal to lend under government guarantee schemes and the Government's total ignorance of life outside Westminster.”

The UK sample was broad, in that 40% of those polled were either owners or senior executives, while 43% were accountants or payroll administrators.