This was the main finding to come out of a report jointly released by Lloyds Banking Group and Business in the Community (BITC), which surveyed 151 MPs on their views about the role of business in their constituencies.

According to the study, three in five MPs thought responsible business was a key issue for national Government as the 2015 national election approaches – two in five said it would be a key issue within their constituency.

The vast majority (86%) thought that making profit in a sustainable manner was a key issue for all businesses in light of the recent recession and banking crisis, with 81% believing that responsible business has a positive effect on the economy.

MPs expect businesses to have a strong sense of social value and engage in initiatives that go beyond giving to charity – these include regenerating deprived areas, encouraging enterprise and raising educational standards. Despite this, nearly a third had no knowledge of local businesses undertaking such activities.

When asked about a range of community activities that businesses are increasingly engaged with, fewer than one in six MPs said that they were aware “to a great extent” of those activities being carried out by business in their constituencies.

In light of the findings, BITC is calling on elected representatives to work more closely in partnership with local businesses and encourage them think about and reduce their impact on the environment. It would also like MPs to work more effectively with larger companies and help them to open up their supply chains to smaller firms.

Rising to the challenge

Commenting on the report, Lloyds Banking Group’s director of responsible business Graham Lindsay said that companies should look to integrate sustainable practices into their everyday operations.

“We have one strategy for delivering sustainable success, being the best bank for customers. To us, that means making a sustained and positive difference to the households, businesses and communities we serve – doing business responsibly is inherent in this strategy,” he said.

“The magnitude of the challenge facing our communities is growing daily, and yet there is increasing pressure on local organisations to deliver vital services. Businesses in the UK have a duty to demonstrate their commitment to the communities we serve … imagine the impact if every business of reasonable size in the UK seconded just one person to work in a disadvantaged neighbourhood.”

Interestingly, four in five MPs would welcome support from businesses in creating and implementing long-term strategies both for their constituency (88%) and nationally (84%) with a majority (74%) believing that legislation is not the way to ensure this.

Maxine Perella

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