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The small business guide to the 2017 election manifestos

  1. General election 2017
    Francois Badenhorst

    Francois Badenhorst Deputy Editor Staff Member

    Posts: 82 Likes: 16
    2 |

    Elections are a magical time where politicians make a vast array of promises to all kinds of people (who often have competing interests) in a desperate bid for popularity.

    Sloganeering aside, what actually are their policies? Less filler, more killer, as they say: which political party’s proposals will help you build and scale your business? You’ll have to answer that question. But to help you decide, let’s look at what the main players are offering.

    The Conservatives

    The Conservative manifesto echoes the Tory slogan “strong and stable”. The staples are there: low tax, fiscal conservatism - but there’s also a touch of almost soft left policies. It’s an intriguing mix.

    Here’s what Theresa May’s party is offering the UK’s businesses:

    • They will stick to the pledge to cut corporation tax to 17% by 2020. Other changes include increasing the personal income tax allowance to £12,500 and increasing the higher rate of income tax to £50,000, both by 2020
    • More broadly, the manifesto makes a vague promise to “simplify” the UK’s byzantine tax system.
    • David Cameron’s ‘Tax lock’ will be ditched. This was Cameron’s pledge in 2015 that there will be no VAT, national insurance or income tax rises “for the next five years under a Conservative government”
    • Ensure that 33% of central government purchasing will come from SMEs by the end of the parliament
    • The party pledges it will regulate more efficiently, saving “£9bn through the Red Tape Challenge and the One-In-Two-Out Rule”
    • In keeping with a new found zeal for worker’s rights, the Tories promise to increase the National Living Wage to 60% of median earnings by 2020 and protections for people working in the gig economy
    • Executive pay will be reviewed. Companies will have to publish a ratio of executive pay compared to the broader UK workforce
    • The party wants to update the rules that govern mergers and takeovers
    • Increase the amount levied on firms employing migrant workers
    • The UK will enter Brexit negotiations with a “sincere spirit of cooperation”


    Labour’s plans have already drawn the ire of business groups. Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, noted the cost of Corbyn’s plans “would be staggering, the benefits unclear, and the related tax rises would make the UK a less competitive economy”.

    But what else is Labour offering businesses? If they are victorious, Labour promises to:

    • Mandate a new National Investment Bank, and regional development banks in every region specifically to meet the needs of SMEs and “prioritise lending to improve the funding gap”
    • Reinstate the lower small business corporation tax rate
    • A large-scale reform to business rates, including switching from RPI to CPI (Statslife has a great explainer here) and possibly abolishing business rates altogether in favour of a Land Value Tax
    • Scrap quarterly reporting under Making Tax Digital for businesses with a turnover of under £85,000
    • They will declare “war” on late payment. Namely, anyone bidding for a government contract pays its own suppliers within 30 days. The UK will also adopt a version of the Australian system of “binding arbitration and fines for persistent late-payers for the private and public sectors”
    • Labour will appoint a Digital Ambassador to liaise with technology companies “to provide support for startups to scale up”
    • “No deal” will not be an option when Brexit is negotiated

    The Liberal Democrats

    To their credit, the Lib Dems have a whole section dedicated to small business and entrepreneurs in their manifesto. “Our priority in supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses is to ensure that they have access to the funding they need, and in particular long-term (and patient) capital.”

    If elected, they will:

    • Expand the activities of the state-owned British Business Bank, enabling it to perform a more central role in the economy by tackling the shortage of equity capital for growing firms and providing long-term capital for medium-sized businesses
    • Create a new “start-up allowance” to help those starting a new business with their living costs in the crucial first weeks of their business
    • Support fast growing businesses seeking to scale up, through the provision of mentoring support
    • Review business rates to reduce burdens on small firms, and make them the priority for any future business tax cuts
    • Reform the Regulatory Policy Committee to remove unnecessary regulation, reduce regulatory uncertainty, and support new markets and investment, particularly in low-carbon and resource-efficient innovation
    • The manifesto pledges to add one penny on the basic rate of income tax. This will raise £6bn for the NHS and social care. Corporation tax will rise slightly, back to 20%. Business rates will be reviewed and reformed

    The Green Party

    If the Labour Party’s manifesto made you wince, then I hope you’re sitting down. At its manifesto launch today, the Greens’ co-leader Caroline Lucas said Labour “didn’t go far enough”.

    Now that sentiment will either make you think “too right!” or “these guys are completely off-piste”. There’s no black and white. Here are their policies:

    • Support startups and creative enterprises through community credit and green investment, to provide opportunities for young people to be creative and innovative
    • Phase in a four-day working week (a maximum of 35 hours) and abolish zero hours contracts
    • A living wage of £10 an hour by 2020
    • Turn the government-owned Royal Bank of Scotland into “a network of local people’s banks for every city and region”, obliged to lend locally and provide cheap basic banking services.
    • The Greens tax policy is, unsurprisingly, aimed at the top. The party will launch a crackdown on tax evasion. They plan to implement a wealth tax on the top 1% of earners, increase staff at HMRC and reinstate the higher level of corporation tax for large businesses
    • There will be a “Robin Hood tax” on high-value transactions in the finance sector, and inheritance taxed according to the wealth of the recipient


    Here's what Paul Nuttall and UKIP have promised the UK's small businesses:

    • Unsurprisingly, no compromise on Brexit. The party says, if elected, it would leave the EU with immediate effect without completing the Article 50 process
    • The full restoration the UK Exclusive Economic Zone in accordance with international law
    • Cutting business rates by 20 percent for the 1.5 million British businesses operating from premises with a rateable value of less than £50,000
    • Make HMRC investigate big businesses or public sector bodies that repeatedly make late payments to smaller customers
    • Bring forward legislation requiring employers to advertise jobs to British citizens before they offer them overseas
    • No quarterly tax returns, and no increase in Class IV National Insurance or taxes for our self-employed strivers
    • List contracts worth over £10,000 on the government’s ‘Contracts Finder’ website, to help more small firms access public procurement opportunities.


    And finally, launching a little later than everyone else, is the Scottish National Party's manifesto. 

    • The party will pursue a policy that will keep Scotland in the EU, even as the UK leaves the bloc.
    • Targeted reduction in National Insurance payments to lower the cost burden on employers. The party pledges to double the Employment Allowance – the National Insurance discount businesses receive when they increase employment – from £3,000 per business per year to £6,000 per business per year.
    • Full devolution of immigration powers so Scotland can tailor an immigration policy to the country's needs.
    • New legislation to ensure prompt payment of invoices - particularly to businesses hoping to scale. 
    •  A gradual phasing in of quarterly tax reporting under Making Tax Digital and consider exempting those who aren't VAT registered or incorporated.
  2. Jessie Kelly

    Jessie Kelly UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 0 Likes: 0
    How I start small business, I don't have much asset to start a small business?
    Posted: Jun 9, 2017 By: Jessie Kelly Member since: Jun 1, 2017
  3. Jessie Kelly

    Jessie Kelly UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 0 Likes: 0
    May you give me some suggestion about small business I want to start small business in field of education. How it can possible easily?
    Posted: Jun 10, 2017 By: Jessie Kelly Member since: Jun 1, 2017