SMEs have fallen out of love with the coalition

RESEARCH suggests that the gloss has worn off small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) view of the current Government ahead of the federal election.

The latest report from the MYOB Business Monitor survey indicates that the number of business owners that are dissatisfied with the level of support they receive from Government are now out-numbering those satisfied.

The figures tell two stories. On the one hand the Government remains far more popular amongst SMEs than its predecessor. On the other, as the Government lobbies for pre- election support from this crucial business sector, dissatisfaction levels in the past six months have increased.

Since the Coalition was elected in September 2013, the opinion of the Federal Government has been far more favourable than in the prior four years (ranging between 23 percent and 30 percent), but it has now dipped to its lowest level of 20 percent. 

In terms of satisfaction with the level of Federal Government support, the MYOB Business Monitor also showed a 10 per cent decrease from 30 per cent in October to 20 per cent in this wave. The latest survey also shows dissatisfaction with the level of support from State Governments has also increased significantly in this wave from 30 per cent in October 2015 to 38 per cent.

"This government has announced significant policies to support small and medium businesses," said MYOB CEO Tim Reed. 

"So I'm sure it is concerning that despite an election campaign that has placed a significant amount of attention on business, the results show the government's message isn't resonating as strongly as they'd like.

"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.

"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."

While these latest MYOB survey findings are somewhat sobering, it is not 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 per cent in Gen Y compared to 37 per cent for baby-boomers) and sole traders (dissatisfaction of 29 per cent compared to 45 per cent for small business)."

The MYOB Business Monitor, now in its seventh year, is a bi-annual national survey of more than 1,000 SME business owners.

Election lead up - what else would SMEs vote for
As the Federal Election approaches, small business owners have indicated they want to see a continuation of the $20,000 instant asset tax write-off scheme.

68 per cent of SMEs surveyed 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 30th June, 2017. The results from the Business Monitor show that SMEs are calling for the Federal Government to make this permanent," explained Mr. Reed.

Other key policies that SMEs would vote for include: assigning a proportion of Government procurement contracts to small businesses (58 per cent), the establishment of an incentive bonus for businesses employing people over age 50 (57 per cent), and increased Federal Government funding for skills, training and apprenticeship programs (54 per cent).

"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."