General election 2017: Labour vs Conservative – Which party is best for business?

Ahead of the June 8 election, we've analysed small business policies from the manifestos of Britain's two biggest political parties. Find out how their plans could impact you...

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We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality. This article was authored by:
  • Shane Donnelly

With the snap general election called back in April, UK voters will once again flock to the polls for a general election on Thursday 8 June.

Economic and political uncertainly is growing across Europe and the wider world and so the business-mindset of the next government will be crucial in ensuring that the UK, and the small businesses it's home to, can survive – especially in life after the European Union.

At Startups.co.uk, we recognise that start-ups and small businesses are the backbone of the economy so we've read through the recent Labour and Conservative manifestos – Britain's two main, and biggest, political parties – to help you make your mind up on which party means business…

Taxes

LabourLabour:

  • Intends to increase income tax for anyone earning above £80,000 a year.
  • Has assured that it will increase personal National Insurance Contributions or the rate of VAT.
  • Will raise corporation tax, with the suggestion this would be a gradual rise from the current rate of 19% to 26% by 2020.
  • Will reintroduce the lower small profits rate of corporation tax.
  • Will exclude small businesses with a turnover of less than £85,000 from plans to introduce quarterly reporting.
  • Plans to introduce an excessive pay levy on companies with staff on high pay.
  • Has outlined a “package of reform” for business rates – including switching from RPI to CPI indexation and exempting new investment in plant and machinery from valuations.

ConservativeConservative

  • Wants to lower corporation tax to from 19% to 17% by 2020.
  • Is exploring the introduction of self-assessment in the valuation process for business rates, as well as conducting a full review of the business rates system to ensure it is compatible with the modern world of online shopping.

Infrastructure

LabourLabour:

  • Plans to create a National Transformation Fund that would invest £250bn over 10 years to help upgrade the economy.
  • Has promised to complete the HS2 high-speed rail line from London through Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester and Scotland, and build Crossrail 2.
  • Wants to roll-out universal superfast broadband across the UK by 2022.
  • Will instruct the National Infrastructure Commission to report on how to roll out ‘ultrafast’ 3000bps across the UK within a decade.
  • Is set to appoint a digital ambassador to work with tech start-ups to promote Britain as an attractive place for investment and to provide support for start-ups to scale up.
  • Will continue the current £1.9bn investment in cyber security.

ConservativeConservative:

  • Plans to create a £23bn National Productivity Investment Fund which would include £740m of digital infrastructure investment, £1.1bn to improve local transport and £250m in skills by the end of 2020.
  • Has asserted that all routine small business and consumer banking services will be available in rural post offices.
  • Has promised that HS2 will be completed as will the “Northern Powerhouse” Rail and the expansion of Heathrow Airport.
  • Will put plans in place for The British Business Bank to open new offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Manchester and Newport.
  • Wants to launch a new institute of technology in the UK, dedicated to world-leading digital skills.
  • Post-Brexit, it claims the British Business Bank will be financed by the repatriated funds from the European Investment Fund.
  • Will guarantee that every business in Britain will have access to high speed broadband by 2020 with full fibre connection voucher for companies being introduced by across by 2018.
  • Claims that by 2022, 10 million businesses will be connected to major fibre spines in over a hundred towns and cities.

Regulation

LabourLabour:

  • Government procurement will ensure that anyone bidding for a government contract pays its own suppliers within 30 days.
  • Wants to introduce a version of the Australian system of binding arbitration and fines for persistent late-payers for the private and public sectors.
  • Intends to introduce a proper legal definition for co-operative ownership.

ConservativeConservative: 

  • Asserts that £9bn will be saved via the Red Tape Challenge and the One-In-Two-Out Rule.
  • Will give employees a right to request information relating to the future direction of their company.
  • Will require listed companies to either nominate a director from the workforce, create a formal employee advisory council or assign specific responsibility for employee representation to a designated non-executive director.
  • Has said there will be a “robust system” for protection of intellectual property(IP) post-Brexit.
  • Intends for businesses to have the right to insist on a digital signature and the right to digital cancellation of contracts.
  • Digital companies will be obliged to provide digital receipts and clearer terms and conditions when selling goods and services online.
  • The party will ensure that 33% of central government purchasing will come from small businesses.

Brexit

LabourLabour

  • Accepts the EU referendum result confirming Britain's exit from the EU.
  • Will guarantee existing rights for all EU nationals living in Britain.
  • Will make sure that all workplace laws, consumer rights and environmental protections – are fully protected post-Brexit.
  • Says parliament will vote on final deal.

ConservativeConservative

  • Accepts the EU referendum result confirming Britain's exit from the EU.
  • Will ensure the UK is no longer a member of the single market or customs union.
  • Will seek a “special partnership” and comprehensive free trade and customs agreement with the EU.
  • Says small financial contributions to the EU may be retained for specific European programmes.
  • Will reach a Brexit agreement within the two years allowed by Article 50.
  • Will enact a Great Repeal Bill to turn all EU law into UK law.

Employment

LabourLabour

  • Plans to maintain the apprenticeship levy and give employers “more flexibility” around hiring employees.
  • Will protect the £440m fund for apprenticeships for small-and medium-sized employers who don’t pay the levy.
  • Wants to ban zero-hours contracts.
  • Has proposed four new public bank holidays.
  • Intends 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.
  • Will ban unpaid internships
  • Will abolish employment tribunal fees.
  • Intends to double paid paternity leave to four weeks and increase paternity pay.
  • Plans to shift the burden of proof, so the law assumes a worker is an employee unless the employer can prove otherwise.

Conservative Conservative

  • Has said it will continue to increase the National Minimum Wage to 60% of median earnings by 2020.
  • Will protect ‘gig’ economy workers.
  • Wants to double the immigration skills charge levied on businesses employing migrant workers, to £2,000 a year.
  • Plans to introduce the right to lifelong learning in digital skills.
  • Intends to increase the earnings thresholds for people wishing to sponsor migrants for family visas.
  • Businesses with more than 250 employees will be required to publish more data on how they pay male and female employees.
  • Will push for an increase in the number of women sitting on boards of companies.
  • Employers will be provided with amended health and safety regulation,s appropriate first aid training, and a needs assessment for mental health.

Labour versus Conservative: Which party is best for business? We’d love to hear your thoughts so please comment below or get in touch on Twitter using the Twitter handle @startupstowers

Shane Donnelly

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