Small Business Britain – Election Manifestos

This week saw the launches of the three main UK political parties’ manifestos. But what did they reveal about plans to support small businesses?

Firstly on Monday, there weren’t too many surprises from Labour. Some of the key measures from the manifesto included continuing the ‘Time to Pay’ scheme, doubling the Entrepreneurs Relief lifetime limit to £2 million, and creating a Social Investment Bank that will make additional capital available to social enterprises.

Labour also revealed that they would seek to reduce the costs of regulation by more than £6 billion by 2015, and reiterated that they would be creating a Small Business Credit Adjudicator and raising National Insurance by one penny.

Next, on Tuesday, the Conservative Party set out plans which included stopping planned increases in National Insurance contributions and cutting the small companies’ Corporation Tax rate from 22p to 20p. They also announced that they would exempt all new businesses starting in the first two years of a Conservative Government from Employers’ National Insurance on the first ten employees they hire in the first year.

Other policies included reducing the burden of red tape on business with a ‘one in one out’ rule for new regulation and regulatory budgets, reducing the number of forms needed to register a new business and simplifying business taxes.

Finally, on Wednesday the Liberal Democrats proposed that they will support the establishment of Local Enterprise Funds and Regional Stock Exchanges to help local investors put money into growing businesses in their own part of the country. They also plan to reduce the burden of unnecessary red tape by properly assessing the cost and effectiveness of regulations before and after they are introduced, using ‘sunset clauses’ to ensure the need for a regulation is regularly reviewed. The Liberal Democrats also announced their plan to break up the banks and build up diverse local and regional sources of business finance.

Pernille Bruun Jensen, Managing Director of Intuit UK commented,

“None of the UK political parties can afford to ignore the voice of Small Business Britain. Recent research from YouGov commissioned by Intuit revealed that 60% of small business owners feel that their experiences of running their business will influence the way they vote. Given that there are around 4.7 million small businesses in the UK, we are talking about a significant pool of voters.”

“According to the YouGov research, UK entrepreneurs are calling out for measures such as reducing employers’ national insurance contributions and further deferment of Corporation Tax that will benefit their companies. Small businesses have a key role to play in our economic recovery, as they employ around 13.7 million people and contribute over 50% of the UK’s turnover. It could be significant if the party that comes to power actively listens to and addresses the needs of Small Business Britain.”

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1016 small business decision makers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7th – 9th December 2009. The survey was carried out online. For more information, please visit www.smallbusinessbritain.co.uk

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