24th April, 2015 No Comments
With only days to go before we witness the most unpredictable General Election in living memory, small business owners may see party leaders popping up in every corner of the country scrapping for the last vote wondering why they should watch it all unfold when the polls open. Yes, the top level party proposals will have a knock on effect from top to bottom of the economy, but businesses don’t get a vote. So why is it worth watching?
The national headlines may be taken up by a new quote each day from a FTSE chief executive or major party donor chipping a new quote into the chaos, but delve a little deeper and you will find significant policy changes that will impact the lifeblood of our economy: small business.
What surprises many people about the make up our economy is just how reliant national growth is on the health of small firms. Last year small businesses accounted for 48% of private sector employment – which is a startling 12 million people. So when we talk about employment or wages we shouldn’t be thinking about solely about the ‘big hitters’, but equally about the traders within a few miles radius of where you are sitting.
So, we know small business has underrated clout. But what does the General Election mean for this often overlooked crowd?
Don’t worry I’m not going to suggest scrolling through hundreds of pages of party policy before bed tonight. Here is a quick taster on some of the proposals by each party to help small businesses in the next five years:
Conservatives – Triple the number of start-up loans to businesses to 75,000, launch ‘Help to Grow’ to create £1bn in loans, and raise the target for SMEs’ share of central government procurement.
Labour – Strengthen rules on late payment, cut and then freeze business rates, and ban exploitative zero-hours contracts.
Liberal Democrats – Protecting the science budget to drive innovation, help businesses create a million more jobs by promoting apprenticeships, and continue to reform business tax to make sure it stays competitive and give priority for any cuts to SMEs.
Green Party – reduce employers’ National Insurance in the longer run to 8%, increase access to finance by investing £2bn in a network of community banks, and allowing local authorities to favour local procurement to help their local economy.
UKIP – make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to tender for public sector contracts, introduce a scheme whereby small businesses provide evidence of repeated late payments to HM Revenue and Customs, and repeal EU regulations and directives that stifle business growth.
So there you have it. It might not be every policy from every manifesto, but it should if you are a small business owner it should give you a reason to watch the drama unfold on the 7th of May and it might be enough to assure you that the pre election talk isn’t all centred on big business. Now it’s just the small matter of the result…
Written by Andy Grey, Policy Assistant, Business West