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Election 2019: What’s On Offer For Small Businesses?

General election day 2019 is coming (our third general election since 2015). Boris is hoping to increase the number of Conservative MPs in the House of Commons in order for it to make it easier for him to pass new laws and to get Brexit done. Labour would like another vote on Brexit and the Lib Dems are saying they’d cancel Brexit altogether if they got in. 

The current polls have the Conservatives out in front but this doesn’t necessarily take into account the whole picture, for example how things might be changing at constituency level. Plus, the pollsters haven’t always got things right in recent years. 

We’ve read the manifestos and we’re here to summarise the key points for small businesses from the main parties. 

You can read the three main party manifestos in full here: 

(And before you shout at us, we’re looking at the parties who are running the most candidates around the country)

 


 

Conservatives logo

What the Conservative Party are saying about small businesses

The Conservative Party’s campaign slogan is to Get Brexit Done – and this is one of their key election pledges. With regards to small business, the Conservative Party manifesto states that they will: 

  • Expand start-up loans, which have particularly high take-up from women and BAME entrepreneurs. 
  • Support start-ups and small businesses via government procurement, and commit to paying them on time. 
  • Help SMEs to become exporters so that they can seize the opportunities that will become available once they get Brexit done.
  • Strive to achieve the right regulatory balance between supporting excellent business practice and protecting workers, consumers and the environment. Through the Red Tape Challenge, they will ensure that regulation is sensible and proportionate and that the needs of small businesses are always considered when devising new rules. 
  • Cut the burden of tax on business by reducing business rates via a fundamental review of the system.
  • Increase the Employment Allowance for small businesses – a tax cut for half a million small firms. 
  • Review and reform Entrepreneur’s Relief. 
  • Look at how they can improve the working of the Apprenticeship Levy. 
  • Establish a new National Skills Fund as the first step towards a “Right to Retrain” – they will invest £600 million a year, £3 billion over the Parliament, into the Fund. This is new funding on top of existing skills funding.

Here’s what we say:

“The business rates system in its current form is broken, and a fundamental review is certainly needed whatever the make-up of the new Parliament. In the shorter term, we believe revaluations should take place annually, not every three years as under the current system, so an immediate cut is a strong commitment towards small businesses.

“The new ‘Right to Retrain’ is another positive step – bearing in mind many entrepreneurs require new skills in order to start their own business. Few of us have the full complement of skills needed to look after marketing, finance, product design and others – but could gain these through training opportunities along with the support of experts in these fields. But we’d need to closely monitor Conservative commitment to this project, given the adult skills budget has fallen by 45% since 2010.”

Steven Drew, Informi Product Manager

 


 

What the Labour Party are saying about small businesses

The Labour Party manifesto focuses on tackling climate change, poverty and rebuilding public services. With regards to small business, the Labour Party manifesto states that they will: 

  • Make it easier for employers to spend the Apprenticeship Levy by allowing it to be used for a wider range of accredited training.
  • Launch a Climate Apprenticeship to enable employers to develop skills needed to adopt clean energy. 
  • Increase the amount that can be transferred to non-apprenticeship levy-paying employers to 50% and introducing an online matching service to help levy-paying businesses find smaller businesses to transfer their funds to. 
  • Adopt an AAT recommendation to scrap Entrepreneur’s Relief. 
  • Ensure that Making Tax Digital will not become mandatory for any business operating below the VAT threshold. 
  • Review all corporate tax reliefs within the first six months of a Labour Government, with the help of AAT, the National Audit Office, Office of Tax Simplification and others. 
  • Tackle late payments that leave small businesses and the self-employed waiting months to be paid, including banning late payers from public procurement. 
  • Require all employers with over 250 employees to obtain government certification on gender equality or face further auditing and fines. By the end of 2020, they will lower the threshold to workplaces with 50 employees, whilst providing the necessary additional support for small businesses. 
  • Rapidly introduce a Real Living Wage of at least £10 per hour for all workers aged 16 and over, and use savings to public finances to help small businesses manage the extra cost. 
  • Those on £80,000 will get a small rise in income tax while the rate of income tax and National Insurance will be frozen for everyone else. 
  • Reverse some of the cuts to Corporation Tax but it will not rise above the 2010 rate. 
  • Establish a Business Development Agency which will be based in the Post Bank, providing free support and advice on how to launch, manage and grow a business. 
  • Preserve libraries for future generations and update with Wi-Fi and computers. They will reintroduce library standards.
  • Deliver free full-fibre broadband to all by 2030.

Here’s what we say:

“It’s vital that Britain’s 5.7 million-strong small business community is given more support when it comes to spending the Apprenticeship Levy in the best fashion.  Training and developing our workforce is the obvious solution to closing the skills gap, meaning SMEs can ensure apprentices, and indeed other employees, are fulfilling the exact requirements that will fuel business growth. Levy funding clearly needs reviewing, however, as there’s reportedly little left in the central fund, and it’s also unclear how the Labour Party intends to enact its proposal for six years of free study for adults.

“We believe it’s promising that Labour has underlined its commitment to tackling the scourge of late payments. And the scrapping of Entrepreneurs Relief will be welcomed, as the relief in its current form is failing to help small businesses grow and prosper.”

Steven Drew, Informi Product Manager

 


 

Liberal Democrats logo

 

What the Liberal Democrats are saying about small businesses

The Liberal Democrats were the first to publish their manifesto which leads with tackling the climate emergency, extra funding for schools, transforming mental health services. For small businesses, they have committed to:

  • Introducing the AAT proposals to make the Prompt Payment Code compulsory for all companies with 250+ employees and for the Small Business Commissioner to enforce this. 
  • Creating a new ‘start-up allowance’ to help those starting a new business with their living costs in the crucial first weeks of their business. 
  • Supporting fast-growing businesses seeking to scale up, through the provision of mentoring support. 
  • Replacing Business Rates in England with a Commercial Landowner Levy based solely on the land value of commercial sites. 
  • Ending retrospective tax changes like the loan charge, so that individuals and firms are treated fairly, and reviewing recent proposals to change the IR35 rules. 
  • Introducing new Skills Wallets for every adult in England, giving them £10,000 to spend on education and training throughout their lives. 
  • Expanding the Apprenticeship Levy into a wider ‘Skills and Training Levy’ to help prepare the UK’s workforce for the economic challenges ahead with 25 per cent of the funds raised by the levy going into a ‘Social Mobility Fund’ targeted at areas with the greatest skill needs.
  • Prioritise small and medium-sized businesses in the rollout of hyper-fast broadband.
  • Provide a supportive framework to develop social enterprises – businesses with a social focus rather than a profit motive.

Here’s what we say:

“The Liberal Democrats’ commitment to the Prompt Payment Code is a recognition that legislative reform is needed to stem the negativity that late payments have brought. And we support their views on expanding the apprenticeship levy as well, given that there has been decades of chronic underspending in skills, and the UK’s needs in this area extend far beyond the scope of apprenticeships.”

Steven Drew, Informi Product Manager

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