Protecting the economy key election issue for ‘white van men’

To win the support of the nation’s ‘white van men’ on May 7, political parties will need to convince them that they will support small businesses and ‘protect the initial gains of the economic recovery’, according to a new survey.

IronmongeryDirect invited 10,000 tradespeople to give their views and the study revealed that the economy was the key issue shaping how tradespeople will choose to vote (a major influence on 56% of those surveyed). This was followed by the future of the NHS (52%) and immigration (49%).

The study of the UK trades sector shows how business has improved over the last 12 months, but according to IronmongeryDirect, the nation’s tradespeople to ‘remain anxious’ about the future of their small businesses.

Fewer tradespeople describe their business as struggling than in 2014 (6.5% rather than 7.1%) and more feel that business is comfortable (from 40.6% to 43.7%), if not ‘booming’.

Of the major political parties, it seems that the Conservatives have been most successful so far in convincing tradespeople that they should be trusted to continue the job, with the support of 52% of tradespeople who expressed a preference, followed by Labour with 21% and UKIP with 14%.

Of the policies tradespeople felt would have the biggest benefit to their business, freezing rises in fuel duty was the most popular (the choice of 61% of tradespeople), followed by lowering corporation tax for small businesses (55%) and cutting red tape in areas such as employing workers and health and safety (45%).

Wayne Lysaght-Mason, managing director at IronmongeryDirect, said: “The views of UK tradespeople are typical of many small businesses across the UK. The scars of the recession have not yet healed and, while the signs of recovery are present, there is concern that the gains made are fragile and need supporting by whichever party gains power on May 8th.

“Looking at the policies favoured by our sample, there is also clearly an appetite for actions that will have an immediate impact, reducing costs now and enabling growth so that businesses can capitalise on the opportunities being presented to them.”