As the leaders of the three main political parties join for the final of the groundbreaking televised debates on Thursday 29 April, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has raised key arguments which it believes are vital to strengthening economic recovery that each party leader should answer to.

Small businesses are the UKs biggest employer with 4.8 million businesses employing over 13.7 million people and accounting for 50 per cent of the UKs GDP.

FSB research shows that economic recovery is slowly continuing, but that it remains fragile, with many UK businesses working below capacity and keeping employment on hold – almost one in four businesses expect the situation to get worse over the next three months.

Given the above, tomorrows debate should feature questions and answers on the following:
• The planned one per cent increase in National Insurance Contributions (NICs) – FSB research shows this will lead to a loss of 57,000 jobs in the SME sector
• Improving employment prospects through the SME sector – FSB research shows that 63 per cent of businesses expect to keep employment levels on hold
• Increasing access to finance for SMEs – FSB research shows that only 18 per cent of small businesses have applied for new credit in the last two months

John Walker, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“Business sentiment is finely balanced as the UK continues to recover from the longest and deepest recession since records began. There are three key issues which must be addressed by the party leaders if we are to carry on the road to recovery and avoid a double-dip recession – tax, employment and access to finance. We have sent briefing papers in advance of the debate to the offices of all three party leaders. We have also launched our own manifesto and have made an analysis of the implications for businesses from each of the main party manifestos. We now look forward to working with a new government, of whatever hue, and look forward to putting the case for growth in the small business sector as the main route to recovery.”

Additional information:

1. The FSB is the UK’s leading business organisation with over 213,000 members. It exists to protect and promote the interests of the self-employed, and all those who run their own business. More information is available at
2. The research findings are from the FSB-ICM ‘Voice of Small Business’ Survey panel carried out each month with FSB members. Details are available at
3. The FSB manifesto ‘Small Business, Big Vote: Election Manifesto 2010′ can be downloaded from
4. This is a national release; additional information may be available on a regional basis. For regional FSB contacts please go to