With the 2017 general election looming, we’ve combed through the manifestos of the three major parties and summarised the positions and policies that could impact your business.
In their manifesto, the Conservatives say that they are “the party of enterprise and of the entrepreneur” and that they “understand that small businesses are the wellspring of growth.”
- The Conservatives plan to reduce corporation tax to 17 per cent by 2020 (from its current level of 19 per cent).
- They promise to “simplify the tax system” for self-employed people and small businesses.
- They want to conduct a review of the business rates system, make sure that revaluations are conducted more frequently, and explore the introduction of self-assessment to the valuation process.
- They say they’d help innovators and startups, by encouraging early stage investment and considering further incentives.
Public sector contracts
- They say they’d ensure that 33 per cent of central government purchasing came from SMEs by the end of the parliament.
- They’d make sure that big contractors government worked with complied with the ‘Prompt Payment Code’ on their government contracts and in their work with others. Those who failed to do this would lose the right to bid for government contracts.
- The Conservatives say they’d continue to increase the minimum wage to 60 per cent of median earnings by 2020.
- They want to give self-employed people and workers in the ‘gig economy’ better protection, but they’re waiting for Matthew Taylor’s report before deciding how to do this.
- They say they’d “help digital businesses to scale up and grow” and ensure that consumers and businesses have access to digital infrastructure.
Brexit and international trade
- They confirm that the UK will no longer be a member of the single market or the customs union, but they plan to negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU, and to form new trade agreements with non-EU countries.
- The Conservatives want to “forge a new culture of exporting among UK businesses”.
Read the Conservative party's manifesto.
In their manifesto, Labour claim to be the “party of small businesses”, and say that they “understand the challenges our smaller businesses face.” Here’s what their manifesto has to offer.
- Labour plans to increase the main rate of corporation tax, reaching 26 per cent by 2020-21, but to reintroduce the ‘small profits rate’ for small businesses. This would apply to companies with annual profits below £300k and would be set at 20%, rising to 21% in 2020-21.
- Labour wouldn’t require small businesses (those with a turnover of less than £85k) to submit quarterly tax returns, which is part of the incoming Making Tax Digital plans.
- They promise a "package of reforms to business rates", including raising the tax in line with CPI (consumer price index) rather than RPI (retail price index), exempting new investment in plant and machinery from valuations, and providing access to “a proper appeals process.”
- They say they’d mandate the new National Investment Bank and regional development banks, which would identify where the needs of SMEs aren’t being met, and prioritise lending.
- Labour say they’d make sure that anyone bidding for a government contract pays its suppliers within 30 days.
- They’d also develop a system of binding arbitration and fines for persistent late-payers for the public and private sectors.
- Labour promise to give all workers equal rights from day one, whether part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent.
- They want to extend the rights of employees to all workers, including shared parental pay.
- They say they’d ban zero hours contracts.
- Labour want to raise the Minimum Wage to the level of the Living Wage (expected to be at least £10 per hour by 2020) for all workers aged 18 or over.
- They also plan to clamp down on bogus self-employment, with the law assuming a worker is an employee unless the employer can prove otherwise.
- They’d appoint a Digital Ambassador to promote Britain as an attractive place for investment, and provide support for start-ups to become world-class digital businesses.
Brexit and international trade
- In negotiations, Labour say they’d “champion the export interests of SMEs, ensuring all new trade agreements include a commitment to support their market access needs.”
Read the Labour party's manifesto.
The Liberal Democrats say that “the role of entrepreneurs and small businesses in delivering a thriving economy is fundamental”.
- They’d reverse the Conservative decision to cut corporation tax to 17 per cent.
- They want to reform corporation tax so that the smallest businesses benefit, but the biggest multinationals can’t avoid paying their share. They say they’d take tough action against corporate tax evasion, setting a target for HMRC to reduce the tax gap.
- The Lib Dems want to review business rates, prioritising the development of the digital economy and lessening the burden on smaller businesses. Business rates would be the priority for future business tax cuts.
- The Liberal Democrats want to expand the activities of the state-owned British Business Bank, tackling the shortage of capital for growing firms.
- They plan to create a new ‘start-up allowance’ to help in the first few weeks of setting up a business.
- They also want to provide mentoring support so that fast-growing businesses can scale up.
- The Lib Dems are keen to modernise employment rights, thinking about the ‘gig economy’ in particular.
- They want to end abuse of zero hours contracts, creating a formal right to request a fixed contract and considering the introduction of a right to make regular work patterns contractual after a certain period of time.
- They want to double the number of SMEs participating in the digital economy by supporting ICT capital expenditure by businesses in non-digital sectors.
- They want to create a network across the UK of technology company incubators.
Brexit and international trade
- They believe that trade must be able to continue without customs controls at the border, and we should stay within the single market.
Read the Liberal Democrat party's manifesto.