Top priorities for SMEs revealed

by Madison Utley02 Apr 2019

With the 2019 budget dropping this evening and the federal election rapidly approaching, independent research has been carried out to make clear the changes SMEs hope to see moving forward.

The SME Growth Index research, commissioned by Scottish Pacific, gathered data from the owners, CEOs or senior staff of 1,257 SMEs throughout the country.

Company tax cuts sat at the top of the wish list, with 27% of those surveyed stating it should be the leading priority for regulators hoping to win the sector’s support.

However, the research revealed a significant disconnect between the governmental perception of the market’s needs and the actual priorities of SMEs.

Scottish Pacific CEO Peter Langham explained, “Despite significant publicity around the announcement of a $2bn SME lending fund, not even 3% of respondents felt that implementing this fund should be the top priority.

“There has to be more people taking the time to listen to business owners as opposed to making bold statements like, 'Here’s a new fund of $2bn dollars to help small businesses.’ When you look at the fine print, that $2bn is going to be released in small drips over a long period of time. And if you ask most business owners, they probably haven’t heard of this securitisation fund or have any idea how it can help them.”

Among the other much-discussed measures that ranked disproportionately low on the priority list is the extension of legislation designed to ease late payment times (2%), fast tracking the NBN (2%) and cybersecurity (1%).

Despite this struggle to communicate with regulators, the research revealed a three-year high in SME growth forecasted for the first half of 2019, even given “the uncertainty surrounding the property market, royal commission aftermath and pre-election period.”

“Simplifying the complex tax system and cutting red tape – and on a state basis, getting rid of payroll tax – would have the biggest daily impact for Australia’s small to medium business sector,” Langham concluded.