BUSINESS: Make your vote count in elections
10:51am Friday 19th March 2010 in News By Hannah Holdroyd, Federation of Small Businesses
It cannot have failed to escape the notice of even the most unobservant that a general election is looming on our horizon.
However, you may not have realised that May 6 is also election day for London’s borough councils, and it is looking increasingly (at time of publication) that this will also be the date for the general election.
We live in an increasingly apathetic age and it is easy to wonder what difference an election can really make to our lives.
However, elections do matter and their results make a significant difference to our lives. If, as some have predicted, the election results in a hung parliament, this would be one of the most significant political events in a lifetime.
Many people in the small business community particularly do not believe their vote matters, votes are linked to the residential community and many businesses feel decisions are made to serve those votes.
For example, crime is a serious issue for many small businesses. But the police do not record crime against business specifically, and many crimes reported are not even recorded.
Over half of businesses are the victim of business crime, and the resulting cost is hundreds and thousands of pounds a year, and sometimes jobs and whole livelihoods.
Another example is taxation. Many businesses feel the onerous burden of tax; it is not just a cost for businesses to bear.
The Federation of small businesses estimates that for every extra one per cent of NI imposed by the government, 57,000 jobs are lost.
It is particularly important for the small business community to remember the importance of their vote.
Many small business owners and employees live and work in the same area, so whilst the politicians may not worry about the business vote, it does exist and it is vital that it is exercised.
The FSB in London has been working to make sure that businesses' issues are not marginalised in the upcoming local elections, and not overshadowed on the local level by the prospect of a general election.
In London, we do not just have a national manifesto. Recognising the importance of local issues we have produced 32 manifestos, one for each of the London boroughs.
We have highlighted the issues we feel are important to local businesses and what councils can do to help and support those businesses.
The documents will provide the basis for our lobbying well beyond the date of the election, and we will make sure those elected do not forget about small businesses once their vote has been secured.
Small businesses are the driving force of the British economy and we cannot come out of recession without those small businesses setting the pace.
In every borough, there are simple measures which could support local businesses to the benefit of everyone.
The manifestos for each borough can be found at fsb.org.uk/london and we would welcome comments about the issues we have raised.
Hannah Holdroyd is the London policy officer for the Federation of Small Business, the UK’s leading business organisation. She can be contacted at email@example.com