The number of businesses trading in Sheffield has dropped in two Sheffield constituencies since the last election, new figures reveal.
Research by company records management firm Inform Direct shows the number of businesses open in Sheffield Hallam has fallen from 1,935 in 2010 to 1,625 in 2015 - a net drop of 310 firms.
Sheffield central has also seen a net drop of 96 firms. But Sheffield South East has increased by 327 businesses overall, while Heeley has gone up by 350 and Brightside and Hillsborough has increased by 334.
As the city prepares to go to the polls tomorrow, businesses across Sheffield and South Yorkshire told The Star about the key issues the next government urgently needs to address to help businesses flourish - regardless of who gets into office.
From VAT to the EU and business rates, businesses have called for a number of reforms to help the area’s firms of all sizes survive and grow.
Raj Shah, managing director of Hallam-based firm Blue Wealth Capital and dad to Alexander, aged two, and Oliver, aged three, said: “I would be all for reducing Capital Gains Tax for businesses that employ a certain number of people.
“That would incentivise businesses to hire people when firms are looking to grow.
“Government should also increase the apprenticeship scheme. One year is great, but two years would give apprentices a greater chance of staying with the company and benefit businesses too.”
He also said the reason Hallam has seen a drop in trading businesses could actually be a positive, adding: “It may be a case of businesses that were based at home are now moving to their own premises, and most office spaces are not based in Hallam. I don’t think it’s because Hallam has become worse off for business.”
Emma Tinsley, aged 43, owner of Point 925 jewellery, based in Norton Lees, Sheffield, called for lower business rates, on the back of The Star’s Save Our Shops petition campaign, which attracted more than 5,000 signatures.
After the campaign, Chancellor George Osbourne announced a ‘root and branch’ review of the business rates system.
It cannot come soon enough for Emma, who added: “Rates are so very high for businesses. One of the reasons for shutting my shop in Broomhill was that the rates in the area are so high, and I think that’s why there were so many empty properties in the area.
“Every government says it is getting behind small businesses but so many governments have failed to really support small and independent businesses.”
For Vince Middleton, managing director of Newburgh Engineering, based in Rotherham, taxes and public sector pensions are the primary concerns. He said: “The main problem we have had in the past is all the creeping taxation.
“The next Government needs to fix the final salary pension scheme. Businesses in deficit on the scheme have to pay tens of thousands of pounds which makes it even harder to operate.
“They also need to address public sector pensions. They are just unsustainable at the moment and unaffordable.
“But we are not going to get a political party that wants to do it because it’s like turkeys voting for Christmas.”
Linda Torstensson runs KoziKidz, a children’s outdoor wear brand which was established in Tickhill, Doncaster, with her husband.
She is calling for overhauls to apprenticeship and communications. She said: “The apprenticeships schemes are very laudable but need a bit of an overhaul to be about real work experience and not about ticking boxes.
“Telecoms and communication needs to be a key priority so we don’t get left behind in the world. We have just moved and we were told 44 working days to run a 77-metre cable to the building – we have found another solution.
“At the other end of the age scale, as the workforce ages and we all need to work longer, there also needs to be a shift change in the attitude to older workers and what they can contribute.”
Ruth Gunay, aged 40, is co-owner of Turkish restaurant Lokanta, based in Glossop Road, Broomhill. She called on politicians to look at retail taxes. She said: I would like to see the future government examine VAT, it’s impact on business growth and its fairness as a revenue raiser.
“I would like to see a lower rate of VAT for hospitality. We have seen VAT increase since we started our restaurant business just before the last election.”
Richard Wright, director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: “The various business manifestos set out a number of sound policies, notably around long-term investment, access to finance, infrastructure and training - all of which are critical to the sort of sustainable, balanced growth that the UK economy needs, and which we agree with.
“What is critical to the UK’s future is that we reverse our trade deficit with the rest of the world.”