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Business’ wish list for Budget 2024 revealed as economic pressures continue

Leading business management platform, MYOB, surveyed owners and decision-makers from SMEs and mid-market businesses* across the country on their expectations and policy asks for the upcoming Budget, as well as their confidence levels around whether this Budget would deliver some benefits for business.

For SMEs – often referred to as the engine room of the economy – the majority (49%) aren’t confident their business will benefit from announcements made on May 30th, while 46% are feeling confident and the remainder are unsure.

Confidence levels amongst SMEs may be mixed, but the priorities are clear – with a balance of broader societal benefits and business support shaping the top five policies SME decision-makers want to see this year. Increased investment in healthcare (43%) comes out on top, followed by a reduction in the company tax rate to 25% (36%), increased investment in education (30%), increased investment in infrastructure (28%), and support for training and upskilling (27%).

MYOB CEO, Paul Robson, says that with SMEs sitting at the heart of communities across the country, it’s not surprising to see a strong call for policy that offers more support to those they serve.

“Regardless of industry or location, SMEs tend to have strong ties to their local community. The people they employ and their customers are often neighbours, friends, family and local connections - so it makes sense that investment in core areas that have broader benefits for society and secure New Zealand’s future, are high on the agenda,” he explains.

“Any business hopes or expectations around Budget outcomes will also be tempered by understanding the Government’s fiscal position, and balancing their needs with areas requiring urgent spend. However, investing in local business is critical to growing the economy and business owners are clear on some of the policy settings that could free them up to do just that.”

Taking a closer look at other business-focused policies leaders of New Zealand’s SMEs would support, next to a tax reduction to 25% - favoured by 52% of SMEs - initiatives that improve the ease of doing business and support growth are on the radar.

Forty-two percent of SME owners support policy that would simplify the tax filing process, while 36% want simplified and streamlined consent processes, 30% would support a set proportion of Government contracts being assigned to local SMEs, and more than a quarter would support lowering the R&D Tax Incentive spend threshold.

“Ultimately, local SMEs are looking for policies that address the costs impacting their bottom line, simplify complex processes that stifle growth, and create an environment that supports innovation and uplifts the potential of their teams,” says Paul.

Maximising workforce opportunities key for mid-market

Leaders of local mid-market businesses are more confident (68%) than SMEs that the Budget will deliver benefits for their business, and have their eyes firmly set on policy that supports and promotes a stronger workforce for the future.

Three of the top five policy announcements the mid-market would most like to see in Budget this year underscore this, with support for training and upskilling (42%) being the number one ask, with changes to immigration policy settings, like automatic recognition of skilled migrants’ certification and experience (32%) and improving the immigration accreditation scheme (27%), also featuring.

As well as recognising international certification for skilled migrants entering New Zealand, mid-market leaders also favour policy that delivers automatic approval of certified international materials and products, with nearly a third (31%) of those surveyed including this in their asks for 2024.

Despite often having deeper pockets than SMEs, rising costs are also putting pressure on mid-sized businesses and a reduction in the company tax rate to 25% is also on the wish list for just over a quarter (26%) mid-market decision-makers.

“The mid-market might represent a smaller segment of overall enterprises, but they are some of the most ambitious organisations in New Zealand,” says Paul. “Local mid-sized businesses are consistently driving for growth, and whether they're aiming to increase revenue, grow their presence in the market or outpace their competitors, policy that helps to deliver the resource and expertise they need could contribute significantly towards these goals.”

Looking beyond the priorities for this year’s Budget, mid-market business leaders were also polled on the priorities or initiatives they would like to see the coalition Government focus on during its three-year term.

Fast-tracking the digitisation of Government and public sector systems to improve the business-to-government engagement experience (34%) came out on top, followed by creating a 30-year plan for national infrastructure projects (24%), increasing international trade deals (24%), enhanced investment for R&D, innovation and commercialisation (23%), and investing in hi-tech infrastructure(23%).

“The focus for the mid-market in New Zealand is clear. Building and supporting a workforce that has the right skills and a business infrastructure that is fit for an innovative and dynamic economy – one more structurally suited to the challenges and opportunities of the future, and more strategically connected to the rest of the world to improve business outcomes,” adds Paul.

Balancing act for Budget 2024

MYOB’s Paul Robson says most businesses recognise that the Government needs to walk a fine line with this year’s Budget, considering the number of calls from across the community and economy for increased support.

“However, productive investment in the key initiatives local businesses have highlighted, including streamlining compliance, reducing cost and encouraging greater innovation, will pay dividends over the longer term,” Paul explains.

“A growing business sector will give the Government the flexibility to do more in future Budgets, while increasing the skills and capabilities within local businesses, and making it possible for them to devote more resources to improving innovation will ultimately create the framework for a more efficient and productive economy.”


About the research: MYOB’s survey of SMEs (with fieldwork conducted by Dynata) comprises a nationally representative sample of 554 owners and senior decision makers in small to medium-sized businesses in New Zealand. The survey was conducted between March 13th – March 22nd 2024. Respondents were sampled randomly from the Dynata online panel and screened to ensure they met the qualifying criteria. Quotas were maintained on industry sector to ensure a reliable and diverse cross section of SME opinions were obtained.

MYOB’s survey of the mid-market (with fieldwork conducted by Dynata) comprises a nationally representative sample of 516 owners and senior decision makers in mid-sized businesses (*employing 20 – 500 FTEs, $5m+ annual revenue) in New Zealand. The survey was conducted between March 22nd – April 15th 2024. Respondents were sampled randomly from the Dynata online panel and screened to ensure they met the qualifying criteria. Quotas were maintained on industry sector to ensure a reliable and diverse cross section of mid-market opinions were obtained. Responses for the survey were weighted by industry and business size in line with Stats NZ counts.