Government 'fails entrepreneurs'

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The Government has failed to foster an enterprise culture in Britain, with companies feeling constrained by red tape, taxation and skill shortages, a survey has found. However, their optimism about the economic outlook has surged to a five-year high.

The Government has failed to foster an enterprise culture in Britain, with companies feeling constrained by red tape, taxation and skill shortages, a survey has found. However, their optimism about the economic outlook has surged to a five-year high.

Ernst & Young's annual study found that 68 per cent of Britain's 417 leading entrepreneurs thought the UK has no more of an enterprise culture today than it did five years ago, with only 24 per cent noting an improvement since then.

Despite the introduction of initiatives designed to encourage entrepreneurship over the past year, 60 per cent of leading entrepreneurs felt the Government gave low or no priority to their cause. That was down from 69 per cent last year. Seven out of 10 said this year's budget did not aid enterprise.

At the heart of the problem lies ignorance of government initiatives, which Ernst & Young blamed on the Government's failure to communicate them properly. The survey showed 61 per cent of business leaders were not aware of government funds aimed at supporting enterprise or felt they had not been a success; 58 per cent did not know about the Enterprise Act or deemed it unsuccessful.

Les Clifford, the head of entrepreneurial growth markets at Ernst & Young, said: "Once again it appears that despite some commendable efforts to inspire and encourage enterprise in the UK, the Government is failing to communicate its initiatives properly and to engage effectively with the individuals they are aimed at."

Tax credits for research and development scored higher, with 42 per cent of those polled calling them successful compared with 34 per cent who said they were not. Mr Clifford praised the announcement in the pre-Budget report of plans to revise small business taxation.

Optimism about the economy rose to the highest level since the first survey in 1999. Seventy-seven per cent said the economy would provide a stable environment for them next year, compared with 65 per cent last year.

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