Call for greater political leadership to inspire wave of ‘green growth’

Small Business Britain is calling for greater political leadership to inspire a wave of ‘green growth’ and help the UK get to Net Zero. The nation’s 5.5m small firms collectively account for almost half of the country’s business emissions, and the UK’s leading champion of small firms is calling for the next Government to commit to enhanced small business sustainability support, clearer guidelines on getting to Net Zero, and better access to funding for going green.

The ‘Small Business, Green Growth’ research report – which Small Business Britain launched in partnership with BT earlier this year – found four in five (80%) business owners want to reduce their emissions, but fewer than 2% said they had significant sustainability resources at their disposal to do so, with two thirds wanting more support to become sustainable.

Data from the report – which included a major survey of over 2000 business owners in April 2024 that was analysed by Oxford Brookes Business School – found that only 10% of small business sustainability efforts are influenced by Government policy, with personal values, customer pressure and supply chain requirements having a far greater impact.

And despite the UK’s commitment to Net Zero by 2050, over a quarter (27%) of small businesses say they are unimpacted by the Government’s Net-Zero commitments, with only 12% saying the policy significantly affects them, indicating a major opportunity to revitalise action in this area.

“Leadership from Government and big business is urgently needed to solve the major challenges that small businesses, and the wider world, are going to face as a result of climate change,” said Michelle Ovens CBE, Founder of Small Business Britain. “There is a clear opportunity for the next government to take the lead in driving a positive shift towards greener growth – through greater clarity, connection, and engagement with small businesses. Not only can small firms make a major impact on reducing emissions, but entrepreneurs have a hugely exciting role to play in driving sustainable innovations.”

Access to finance was particularly identified as a major barrier to firms going green. A third (34%) of business owners feel cost restricts them to reduce emissions, with 65% wanting more grants to be made available, underlining another potential area for future Government intervention.

George Phillips, Director of Phillips Hobbies, said: As a small business owner, the challenge of sustainability can be overwhelming. But while it may seem that our individual efforts are insignificant, I believe the collective action of small firms will drive a huge impact towards a greener future. While many small business owners want to do the right thing and go green, we need more support. I’ve spent time learning and building my knowledge and realised that even small changes could make a significant difference. However, like many business owners, I’d like to see more support from the government and others on this road in the long term, particularly when it comes to finance, to make the necessary transitions.”

On the back of the findings from its ‘Small Business, Green Growth’ report Small Business Britain also recently announced the launch of a new free, six-week ‘Sustainability for Small Business’ training programme in partnership with BT.

Delivered free and online, the course will provide guidance for small businesses across the UK to better understand their environmental impact and embrace more sustainable practices, covering topics such as measurement, accreditation, and financing.

With over 1000 places available, small businesses can sign up here: