The Conservative Party is still edging a lead in the polls, although at this stage it seems unlikely that they will gain enough ground during the last days of campaigning to avoid a hung parliament. Much depended on the outcome of the final live television debate last night and early polls suggest that he came across the best on issues for entrepreneurs and business.
If a situation occurs where the power in government is balanced between more than one party, the ideals and policies of those parties become even more important – especially where those policies are very different.
We asked the Conservatives what they intend to do for small businesses should they come into power and they came back to us with their business manifesto.
Easing the credit crunch
“We would use Government guarantees to create more diverse sources of affordable credit for businesses, building on our proposals at the beginning of the recession for a big, bold and simple National Loan Guarantee Scheme.”
Cutting business tax to help cashflow
“We will reduce the small companies’ rate of corporation tax from 22p to 20p, funded by reducing complex relief’s and allowances.”
Encouraging new jobs
“We will abolish tax on the jobs created by new businesses in the first two years of a Conservative Government. Any new business started in the first two years of a Conservative Government will pay no Employer National Insurance on the first ten employees it hires during its first year.”
“Our ‘Work for Yourself’ programme will help move people into self-employment. We will build a network of business mentors and offer substantial loans to would-be entrepreneurs, supporting self-employment and franchising as a route back into work. We will work with specialist organisations that already have a proven track record in this area, like the Prince’s Trust and the Bright Ideas Trust, to offer the best support.”
Cutting red tape for start-up businesses
“We want to make it easier for people to set up new enterprises by cutting the time it takes to start a new business. The Conservatives will reduce the number of forms needed to register a new business, and move towards a ‘one-click’ registration model.”
Improving access to public sector contracts
“A Conservative Government would scrap the rule requiring companies to provide three years of audited accounts when bidding for Government contracts. We will publish all Government contracts worth over £10,000 online. 25 per cent of Government contracts should be awarded to small and medium businesses.”
Eliminating intrusive government inspectors
“The powers of Government inspectors will be drastically curbed by allowing firms to arrange their own, externally audited inspections and, providing they pass, to refuse entry to official inspectors thereafter. We will also introduce ‘MOT style’ inspection reports, quoting precisely which section of which law has been broken, to prevent regulatory ‘scope creep’ where laws are applied too strictly by overzealous inspectors.”
Improving the employment tribunal system
“We will consult carefully on changes that may be required to the employment and discrimination tribunals system, to ensure the system offers fast, cheap and accessible justice, and that it is fair to all sides.”
Making rate relief’s simpler
“A Conservative Government will cut taxes and paperwork for small shops and small firms. Our pledge will ensure that small business rate relief is applied automatically to firms, rather than businesses having to claim it and fill out time-consuming forms.”
“We will ensure that all apprenticeships are work-focused by making it easier for companies to run apprenticeships. We will institute direct payments to employers, simplify the current inspection regimes, reduce the excessive paperwork associated with certification and inspection, and make more government financial support available upfront.
“We will offer a major boost to the provision of workplace apprenticeships by injecting £775 million to support apprentices of all ages, to be delivered through new Lifelong Learning Accounts. The current ‘Train to Gain’ scheme will be refocussed to support apprenticeships. Our Lifelong Learning Accounts will radically improve the present system, fully funding 77,000 apprentices, and creating 100,000 new, additional apprenticeships and training places every year.
“Our support for more workplace apprenticeships includes a £2,000 bonus for each apprenticeship in a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME).”
What are Labour and the Liberal Democrats offering small businesses?