General Election 2017: Manifesto For Small Business

Business news and opinion

31 May 2017

As we approach election day, the main political parties are outlining their visions for the future.

Following the leak of a surprising Labour manifesto, the parties appear more divided than ever over the economy – but what would their plans mean for your business?

Conservatives: focus on Brexit

Theresa May has so far focused on her key campaign soundbite of gaining a ‘strong and stable’ platform on which to negotiate Brexit. Undoubtedly a dominant factor in the vote, the Conservative manifesto has nonetheless pledged to keep taxes down and boost workers' rights by:

  • Giving workers the legal right to unpaid time off to care for loved ones on a full-time basis
  • Increase the amount levied on firms employing non-EU migrant workers
  • Introducing new protections and rights for ‘gig economy’ workers
  • Enforcing worker representation on company boards
  • Giving workers rights to request leave for training

Labour: investment and redistribution

The leaked ‘For the many, not the few’ Labour manifesto caused a stir over suggestions the party would renationalise the water industry, rail networks, energy networks and Royal Mail. Following the official launch, it’s clear that this is part of a broader economic approach that stands in direct opposition to austerity. Instead, Labour advocate more intervention and investment through:

  • A £250 billion National Transformation Fund to invest in industry
  • A new National Investment Bank and regional development banks, specifically to support SMEs
  • Tax increases for those earning above £80,000 per year, representing the top 5% of earners
  • Higher corporation tax for big companies, reduced corporation tax for small businesses
  • Exemption from plans for mandatory quarterly reporting for businesses with a turnover below £85,000
  • A promise to take action on late payments and ending zero hours contracts

Other main parties

The Scottish National Party has pledged to fight for special status for Scotland after Brexit, including seeking to maintain access to the Single Market to help protect Scottish businesses.

Elsewhere, the Lib Dems have built an anti-Brexit platform and are calling for a second referendum, as well as supporting income tax increases to fund healthcare. Both the Lib Dems and the Greens are also arguing for an increase in corporation tax, a move that would have a big impact on business should either party hold sway in a coalition.