Labour and Conservative MPs have very different views on how best to support British entrepreneurs, according to a report from the Entrepreneurs Network.
The group’s annual Parliamentary Snapshot is based on a poll of 100 MPs. It suggests almost two-thirds (63%) of Labour MPS believe increasing grants and loans for entrepreneurs would be the best way to support them.
Among Conservative MPs a regime of tax cuts, including slashing business rates and corporate tax, is the most popular policy for driving entrepreneurial growth. Almost all ministers (89%) from the ruling party are in favour of this approach.
The issue that splits the house more than any other is the potential impact of the UK leaving the EU – or Brexit. More than half (58%) of Conservative MPs believe this would be a positive move for entrepreneurs – whereas only 1% of Labour MPS feel the same way.
One worrying aspect of the report reveals that MPs from both major parties are largely in the dark about current financial incentives for early-stage entrepreneurs.
More than one-third of Conservative MPs (38%) have not heard of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). And a further 18% don’t feel they know enough about the scheme to make an informed decision on its effectiveness.
Labour MPS who favour extra grants and loans and also similarly ignorant of current government programmes. More than half (61%) were not aware of Innovate UK – a series of competitions in which £536m of government money is up for grabs.
Entrepreneurs Network director Philip Salter said he was encouraged to see that “MPs are increasingly vocal about supporting Britain’s entrepreneurs”.
But he added he found MPs’ respective views on the EU the most enlightening – especially Labour MPs’ strong support for the EU.
“This comes at a time when some say the current of leftwing euroscepticism is re-emerging,” he said.
“Just last month, a group of Labour MPs set up Labour for Britain to push for the renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with the EU, and support an Out vote in the referendum if demands are not met.
“Yet our survey found that 95% of Labour MPs think leaving the EU would have a negative impact on entrepreneurial activity in the UK. And just 10% think exempting the UK from EU business regulation would have a positive impact on activity.”
Further reading: What UK scale-ups need to learn from Silicon Valley