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A guide to the Election Manifesto small business policies

With the countdown to the General Election entering the final couple of weeks, small business owners up and down the country will be taking a long hard look at what all the main parties have to offer, before they hit the polling stations on May 7th

But what exactly are the key promises for small businesses?

Our policy team have looked over the manifestos of the main parties and below is a handy summary of the key policies they are looking to propose.  

The Conservatives

·         Plans to conduct a comprehensive review of business rates

·         Pledge to trebling the Start Up Loans programme during the next Parliament to give 75,000 entrepreneurs the chance to borrow money to set up their own business

·         The announcement of plans to launch Help to Grow, an initiative hoping to create £1bn in loans for high-growth businesses by providing government guarantees to banks

·         A pledge to raise the target for SMEs' share of central government procurement to one-third

·         Plan to allow councils to keep a higher proportion of the business rates revenue. The announcement of pilot schemes will mean local councils in Cambridgeshire, Greater Manchester and Cheshire East retain 100% of any growth in business rates.


·         Pledges to address rising costs for small businesses and strengthen rules on late payment

·         Plans to cut and then freeze business rates and maintain the most competitive corporate tax rates in the G7

·         A pledge to increase the National Minimum Wage to more than £8 an hour by October 2019. Also to introduce Make Work Pay contracts to provide tax rebates to firms becoming Living Wage employers

·         A pledge to ban zero-hours contracts

·         Guaranteed apprenticeships for every school leaver who attains specified grades and require any firm that gets a large government contract to offer apprenticeships

·         The introduction of a British Investment Bank and support a network of regional banks.

The Liberal Democrats 

·         Plans to offer further support to medium-sized firms through a ‘one-stop-shop’ for accessing government support, a dedicated unit in HMRC and the development of management skills

·         Plans to expand the British Business Bank to perform a more central role in the economy, tackling the shortage of equity capital for growing firms and providing long-term capital for medium-sized businesses

·         A pledge to encourage the growth of crowd funding and alternative finance models

·         Plans to promote a new community banking sector to support small and medium-sized enterprises and social enterprises

·         Plans to grow a competitive banking sector, support alternative finance providers and improve access to finance for business and consumers

·         A continued commitment to introducing a Land Value Tax, which would replace Business Rates in the longer term and could enable the reduction or abolition of other taxes

·         A continued pledge to work to open up public procurement to small and medium-sized companies and to the voluntary sector

·         Pledge to complete the rollout of high-speed broadband, to reach almost every household (99.9%) in the UK as well as small businesses in both rural and urban areas

·         A promise to double the numbers of businesses hiring apprentices and give young people aged 16–21 a discount bus pass to cut the cost of travel.

Scottish National Party

·         The introduction of measures to ensure that small businesses are paid on time by pushing for prompt payment measures to be put into law

·         A pledge to press for the early devolution of Air Passenger Duty to boost the tourism sector

·         Plans to seek a funding boost for house building from the UK government

·         Support an increase in infrastructure investment, pushing for HS2 to connect to Scotland with a high speed connection between Glasgow, Edinburgh and the north of England as part of any high speed rail network

·         A pledge to seek additional investment to support a more rapid rollout of superfast broadband

·         Plans to outline a case for a targeted approach to business taxation, with targeted changes in tax allowances.

UK Independence Party

·         Plans around business rates. Rate relief of 20% for a business that has properties with a rateable value of less than £50,000.

·         Plans to tackle the issue of late payment by introducing a scheme where small firms will be able provide evidence of repeated late payments to HM Revenue and Customs. If the large company is found to be systematically exceeding its contractual terms of payment with small businesses, then the HMRC will be able to levy sanctions of significant fines, proportionate to the extent of the abuse of terms.

·         A pilot scheme to improve access to trade credit insurance to small businesses.

·         Plans to push every local authority in the country to offer at least 30 minutes’ free parking in town centres, high streets and shopping parades in order to encourage shoppers into our town centres and boost local business

·         A pledge to repeal EU regulations and directives that stifle business growth

·         Plans to make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to tender for public sector contracts, by removing the necessity to demonstrate compliance in areas irrelevant to the job being tendered for

·         A pledge to allow young people to start an apprenticeship in place of four non-core subjects at GSCE level.

The Green Party

·         An assurance that legislation requiring that small businesses should be paid on time is properly enforced

·         Plans to make it easier for small businesses to employ people and contribute towards paying the living wage by using receipts from a wealth tax to reduce employers’ NI in the long run to 8%

·         Measures to improve the competitive position of small firms, maintaining corporation tax for small firms at 20% while raising that for larger firms to 30%

·         Increase access to finance for small firms by investing £2 billion in a network of community banks, mutually owned and serving local areas or particular groups

·         Provide sector specific support for small businesses in the tourism and restaurant sector by lowering VAT to 5% for cooked food, entertainment and accommodation, costing £6 billion a year

·         Introduce measures to keep trade local by allowing local authorities to favour local procurement to help their local economy

·         A crackdown on tax evasion

·         Give BT and other public telecoms providers the obligation to provide affordable high-speed broadband-capable infrastructure for every small business.

Last reviewed 7th June 2016

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