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Business split over Labour economy

The business community is evenly split on the new Government's ability to handle the economy, according to a snap poll of 600 businessmen across the country carried out by Dun & Bradstreet.

But among those businessmen who thought the election was important for their business, those who felt the impact would be positive outnumbered the negatives by six to four.

Just 45 per cent of the sample said they were confident of the Government's ability to handle the economy. A similar number were not confident, and the remaining 10 per cent either did not know or thought it was too early to say.

Almost 40 per cent thought the election result was not important for their business. But of those who believe it is important 58 per cent thought it would be helpful against 42 per cent who said it would have a negative effect.

The three most important reasons cited why the result could be positive were the need for change, a more favourable government attitude to small business and the prospect of faster economic growth. The main fears were the the loss of continuity, the introduction of a minimum wage and the likelihood of tax increases.

Europe is the most important single issue facing the Government according to 33 per cent of the sample, closely followed by the levels of taxation and national insurance. Improvements in the health and education services were in third place.

Business leaders in London were the most confident about the Government's ability to handle the economy, with 53 per cent positive, but this was balanced by only 31 per cent of businessmen in the South-east expressing confidence.