Environment Top Priority For Start-Ups In The UK

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15 November 2022 – New research has shown that start-ups and fast-growing businesses want the UK Government to focus on policies that will protect the environment.

According to a survey conducted by Crowdcube, start-ups and fastest growing businesses want policy focus to be on growth without damaging the environment.

They are telling the Government that they are not worried about cutting EU red tape, something Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to do within the first 100 days in office.

In this, this group of businesses agrees with small businesses, who also see the environment as top priority.

The Biggest Concern For UK Start-Ups and Fast Growing Businesses

Equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube surveyed over 50 founders on their platform about what is important to them.

The poll showed that the biggest concern, with 57%, is the renewal or replacement of the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) beyond 2025.

Because the EIS and SEIS give tax breaks to start-ups and investors at the start of the funding process, it is no surprise that these government-backed schemes are a top priority for this business community.

Ill-fated, former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has increased the amount that can be raised under SEIS by two-thirds to £25,000 as part of his mini-budget.

While this measure has not been reversed by the new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, there is a risk this might change when he delivers the Autumn Budget on 17 November, given that he has a huge fiscal hole to fill.

26% also think that the Government should do more to introduce more training and upskilling initiatives, especially on the supply side. This, they believe, would boost productivity.

With growth a top priority, the survey respondents are also very clear that this needs to happen in a way that will not damage the environment. 53% have put this concern as their top priority.

Founders would rather see the economy managed in a way that is socially and environmentally sustainable than run with a flash-in-the-pan, growth-at-all-costs mindset.

Darren Westlake, CEO and Co-Founder of Crowdcube

Their commitment to support policies that are sustainable and environmentally friendly even goes so far, that 24% of respondents support a tax on their carbon emissions. Even if this could harm their business model.

It is clear from the result of this survey, that the environment needs to be on top of the agenda of the Government, if it wants to score points with start-ups and fast-growing businesses, as well as small businesses.

Tax Cuts Are Not Seen As Priority

The survey has also shown that most of the founders questioned are indifferent to the reversal of most taxes announced in the mini-budget, with only 8% being in support of a decreasing or dropping the top rate of income tax.

And only a quarter of start-ups and fast-growing businesses polled see the freeze in corporation tax as a priority.

Another measure that is hailed as vital by many Tory MPs, including the Prime Minister, is the cutting of EU red tape. The PM has said that doing so will benefit UK businesses hugely.

But the survey showed that only 4% think that the Government should focus its energies on reviewing EU laws and cutting red tape.

The result of the survey shows that government policy is at odds with what the start-up and growth stage sector wants. This has also been highlighted in the results, with 35% feeling that the Government is a net detractor to the UK’s innovative business landscape.

Only 20% said that they think the Government is a net contributor.

Will Rishi Sunak Put The Environment On Top Of Agenda?

Given the low opinion start-ups and growing businesses seem to have of the government, the question is if the new Prime Minister will follow the will of UK businesses and make environmental issues a priority.

He has already re-introduced the fracking ban, which was scrapped by his predecessor Liz Truss and during his speech at COP 27, he said it was right to honour Britain’s climate change commitments.

The pandemic all but broke the global economy and before coming here today, I spent last week working on the difficult decisions needed to ensure confidence and economic stability in my own country. But I can tell you today that the United Kingdom is delivering on our commitment of £11.6bn.

Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister at COP27 Speech

However, in his political career he has voted mostly on party lines in environmental questions, which does tarnish his green credentials.

During the first leadership campaign in which he lost to Liz Truss, Mr Sunak did also make some comments, which show that the climate is not his top priority.

Like Ms Truss, he supported fracking where there is local support, even though he seemed to have changed his mind on that.

He argued for restricting solar development on farmland, claiming that he is “pro-farmer”. At the same time, he supported new licences for oil and gas permits in the North Sea.

But, he did also introduce a windfall tax on fossil fuel giants, which was an unpopular measure in the eyes of many Conservative MPs.

Only time will tell, where in the political agenda Mr Sunak will put the environment.

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The Business4Beginners news team consists of several writers who each have their own unique experience in businesses. By keeping their fingers on the pulse, they bring you the latest in news and trends impacting small UK businesses.
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