02 Dec 2019 | 09:22 am | 2 min. read
Two out of three voters believe business should 'make its voice heard' on the choices facing the UK electorate as the general election approaches.
Research from professional services firm Pinsent Masons has found that while a third of voters (32%) say that the views of business are important to them in determining which way to vote in the 12 December vote, almost two thirds of voters (62%) believe it is important for businesses to make clear the impact the general election result may have on local jobs and investment.
Voters are most interested in the views of small and medium-sized businesses, but the views of large and international businesses are also valued.
On Brexit, around a fifth of voters (17%) say the views of businesses have become more important to them since the EU referendum in 2016.
Andrew Henderson, Director of Public Policy at Pinsent Masons, says:
"So far, the voice of business hasn't been front and centre in this election campaign. Some businesses may understandably be nervous about making their views known, perhaps following bruising experiences during previous elections and referenda, or because they fear becoming a football in a politics which is increasing polarised.
"However, what these findings show is that there is clearly an appetite for business involvement in the political debate, particularly when policy agendas can impact businesses at a local level.
"In an environment where many business leaders are looking beyond shareholder value and becoming more engaged on societal issues, some may feel they have a duty to make clear the consequences of certain policy positions but are unsure of how to balance this with the risks of getting involved in the policy debate.
"Our advice to them would be to be thoughtful about how and when to engage. Contributing to the debate doesn't need to be about taking full page adverts in the local paper. There are ways to make your voice heard while mitigating risks, for instance through professional bodies and employer representative organisations.
"Organisations would ideally get involved when policy is in its early stages of formulation, before the heat and fervour of an election campaign takes hold. Clearly, for this election that moment has passed. Looking ahead, there is still room engage on policy matters. The first 100 days of any new administration is critical for businesses who wish to ensure that their perspective is understood and that concerns are taken on board before manifesto commitments are implemented into hard policy."
Andrew Hawkins, Chairman of Savanta ComRes says:
“Capitalism has had a bad press over the past decade and so businesses may feel on the back foot in communicating what they need from the next government. Yet they should not be put off expressing their views about the political choices on offer to voters, many of whom positively want the business voice to be heard, not least to help them make their own choices. ”
1. The above research was conducted by Savanta ComRes on behalf of Pinsent Masons. The research was carried out between 18-19 November 2019 and interviewed 2035 British adults online. Data were weighted to be representative of British adults by age, gender, region and socio-economic grade. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by all its rules.
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