Owners of small businesses are calling for stronger leadership and clearer guidance from the next UK Government on green policy initiatives.

A new report from Novuna Business Finance reveals concerns ranging from lack of access to grants and funding for green projects and a perceived lack of prioritisation of environmental issues by the major UK political parties.

It also outlines how small businesses have been affected by recent policy reversals by the current Government on crucial green initiatives such as delays in phasing out petrol and diesel cars and shifts in renewable energy commitments.

The research, carried out by YouGov, found that nearly a quarter (23%) of small businesses felt less confident about obtaining grants for funding for green initiatives, and one in five (21%) said they would now look to adopt green and sustainable measures at a slower pace.

In addition, 14% of respondents said green initiatives had become less of a priority to the business “if it is clearly not a priority for the Government”, and 12% said more directly that “if the Government doesn’t take it seriously, why should I?”

Novuna’s research highlights that small businesses have been undergoing transformation on sustainability for the last two years although the report signals that this enthusiasm has been dampened by recent policy U-turns from the main political parties.

In February 2022, 58% of UK small businesses said they were working on sustainability initiatives for the year ahead. By February 2024 this figure was at 92%, with the average small business working on 3.2 sustainability initiatives concurrently and 20% of enterprises working on five or more projects.

With a General Election expected this year, small businesses were asked what green policies they hoped for from a new government. Among the top responses, 73% supported more investment in renewable power so the vast majority of the UK’s electricity is generated from renewables by 2030, and 72% wanted support for a substantial investment into the green economy.

Other responses included government support for planting trees, tackling waste and littering, supporting farms, working with schools and doing more to support local authorities.

Jo Morris, head of insight at Novuna Business Finance, added: “Too often the big debate circles around big brands and the big influencers and there is an urgent need to better understand the small business community’s views on the key issues.”

The report, “Small Business Perspective on Sustainability – The Mandate for Support from a new UK Government”, can be downloaded here.