With the General Election just a week away, let's line up the parties and see just what they're promising for British businesses.
"Strong leadership. A clear economic plan. A brighter, more secure future."
Historically seen as the party for business, the Conservatives still appear to be the favourite party among British businesses, with clear economic plans in place to help those in the driving seat of businesses.
Here are some of their headline business pledges from their manifesto:
– Pursue their goal of becoming the most prosperous major economy in the world by the 2030s.
– Cut Corporation Tax from its current rate of 28 per cent down to 20 per cent.
– Cut £10 billion worth of red tape to ease SME operations.
– Continue to invest in business mentorship programmes and prioritise entrepreneurial action through access to guidance and finance.
– Build a northern powerhouse to rebalance the British economy geographically.
– Maintain economic security by running a surplus in order to start paying down the country's debts.
– Back small firms through the introduction of a 'major business rates review'.
– Provide the 'most competitive taxes of any major economy'.
"A plan to build an economy that works for working people."
Labour's economic policy tagline sums up their approach. They are continuing with their traditional values of putting workers first and, while they are pledging to bring tax changes and new working practises to benefit people across the economy, their promise to help drive business at the entrepreneurial end of the game is a little more vague. Nonetheless, they are still putting forward some strong headline pledges:
– Cut the deficit every year with a surplus on current budget.
– Focus on maintaining and improving relations with the European Union in order to increase market access for British businesses.
– Establish the British Investment Bank to support business growth.
– Maintain the most competitive rate of corporation tax in the G7.
– Prioritise infrastructure investment and low carbon technologies investment.
– Reform takeover rules and improve link between executive pay and performance.
– Devolve £30 billion of funding to regions to support more localised development.
– Cut business rates, freeze energy bills.
"Stronger economy. Fairer society."
The Liberal Democrat manifesto certainly acknowledges the need for a successful British business sector to help drive growth and continue to cut the deficit. If you operate in the finance sector, however, they're less likely to be your friends. But focused investment in manufacturing and technology innovation is likely to appeal to these operators.
Here is a selection of the Lib Dems' headline pledges from their manifesto:
– Finish the job of balancing Britain's books by April 2018.
– Allow borrowing when required for national infrastructure.
– Introduce a new Corporation Tax in banking sector.
– Maintain the Bank Levy.
– Complete plans to separate retail and investment banking.
– Refrain from introducing any plans that would require any increase in the headline rates of Income Tax, National Insurance, VAT or Corporation Tax.
– Double innovation spending to target advanced manufacturing, clean tech and digital industries.
– Improve access to finance for businesses. As part of this, continue to innovate in the crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending areas.
– They also claim to cut £50 billion less than the Tories and borrow £70 billion less than Labour.
Liberal Democrat Manifesto
”UKIP is the party of small business.”
Just a few months ago and UKIP were still seen as an outside party with somewhat extreme views. Fast forward to the week before the election and they can no longer be ignored with such flippancy.
People have looked beyond the headlines towards some of the less reputable members of the party to gain a greater understanding of what UKIP are actually proposing in their manifesto and they're finding some interesting points for business, especially for SMEs.
UKIP are promising to:
– Deliver a £1 billion plus boost for the high street by reducing business rates on premises with a rateable value under £50,000 and encouraging local authorities to provide at least half an hour of free parking on the high street.
– Set up a confidential reporting channel on "late payers" with HMRC to allow small suppliers to prompt investigations into big purchasers who routinely pay late.
– Improve credit insurance for small businesses.
– Exempt small businesses from certain compliance rules when bidding for public sector contracts.
– Cut red tape on small businesses.
– Crack down on corporation tax dodgers through amending Britain's relationship with the European Union.
The UKIP Manifesto
Popular opinion suggests that the Tories remain the party of choice for small business owners. Indeed, 5,000 small business owners were happy to put their signature to the letter calling for the Conservative-led coalition to 'finish what they started' in a letter published this week in the Telegraph.
Similarly, a study by accountancy firm Clearbooks found a strong level of support for the Tory businesses.
Their survey of customers found that 58 per cent believe the Conservatives best represent small businesses. Liberal Democrats were in second position with ten per cent, followed by Labour and the Green party who both had six per cent and UKIP with five per cent.