• shops and stores
  • individuals
  • ebayers
  • market traders

Who can SME's best look to for growth and support in the future?

Who can SME’s best look to for growth and support in the future?

With the General Election just a few weeks away, I’ve been watching the leaders’ debates with interest. I think it’s fairly predictable what each party will say about most policies but while they are regularly quizzed about the national economy and austerity, when it comes down to micro business – they don’t have an awful lot to say, except maybe about small business being the backbone of the British economy. We’ve all heard that before, right?

Historically we have been described as a nation of shopkeepers, so if we’re THAT important to the economy, what do each party intend to do for us who small businesses? I’ve had a trawl through and have pretty much copied text from a number of websites so that you can get some sort of comparison. Just what are each party’s Election Policies for Small Business? Have a read and tell me what you think.

Conservative Policies for SMEs

Conservative Policies for SMEs

Conservative Election Policies for Small Business

Finance and Tax
• Reduce the impact of the increase in National Insurance (NI) to 13.8 percent
• Exempt new businesses from paying NI on their first ten employees for two years
• Use Government guarantees to create more diverse sources of affordable finance for SMEs
• Simplify the tax system by cutting the main rate of corporation tax to 20 pence for small companies and remove complicated tax reliefs.

Employment
• Abolish the Default Retirement Age (and make it 70)
• Reinvigorate occupational pensions and work with employers and industry to support auto enrolment into pensions.
• Build a network of business mentors and provide loans to would-be entrepreneurs, supporting self-employment and franchising as a route back into work
• Give SME’s a £2,000 bonus for every apprentice they hire.

Flexible Working and Equalities
• Extend a right to request flexible working to everyone (including use of zero hours contracts)
• Allow parents to share maternity leave between them

Regulation
• Reduce the number of forms needed to register a new business so that Britain is the fastest place in the world to start a business
• End the restrictions on social housing tenants starting a business from their homes
• Reduce the burden of red tape on business with a ‘one in one out’ rule for new regulations, mandatory sunset clauses and regulatory budgets for departments.

Infrastructure
• Build HS2
• Make utility companies that dig up roads accountable for congestion caused.
• Ensure that overseas trucks contribute towards the cost of road maintenance.

Environment
• Keeping Trade Local
• Open up government procurement to SMEs by reducing administrative requirements, with an ambition that 25 per cent of government contracts go to SMEs
Make small business rate relief automatic.
• Reform regional business support to create business-led Local Economic Partnerships to respond to local business needs.
• Revive the rural economy, by reducing the barriers to business growth and creating incentives for rural development.

UKIP

UKIP

UKIP Election Policies for Small Business

Employment and Small Businesses

• Businesses should be able to discriminate in favour of young British workers.
• Repeal the Agency Workers Directive.
• Conduct a skills review to better inform our education system and qualifications
• Encourage councils to provide more free parking for the high street.
• Simplify planning regulations and licences for empty commercial property vacant for over a year.
• Extend the right of appeal for micro businesses against HMRC action.

Lib Dem

Lib Dem

Lib Dem Election Policies for Small Business

• The Lib Dems promise an in-depth review of national business rates.
• Extend the Funding for Lending Scheme, working with the Bank of England, to reduce the cost of lending across the system to SMEs.
• Continue Enterprise Investment and Seed Enterprise Investment Schemes which help thousands of micro businesses and new start-ups raise millions in investment.
• The Lib Dem Red Tape Challenge has committed to scrap or improve at least 3,000 regulations – saving businesses a combined £850 million per year.
• One-in, Two-out: new rules that mean that for every piece of regulation that costs business £1, Whitehall has to remove £2 of regulatory burden.
• Continue the recently introduced Small and Micro Business Assessment that means that Departments must exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees from all new regulations – unless their inclusion can be proved to be absolutely essential.
• Tackle the problem of late payment to SME. Lid Dems have introduced the Small Business Bill, which requires the UK’s largest companies to report on their payment practices – subjecting companies’ payment performance to full public scrutiny.
• Lib Dems intend to stick to their long-term strategy to harness and encourage the skills and enterprise of British workers and British businesses. They will work with local leaders and give them the freedom and control they need to shape their economic future through our City Deals and Local Growth Deals and build on the success of the Regional Growth Fund –delivering jobs and billions of private investment to businesses of all sizes and sectors.
• They plan to strengthen their Industrial Strategy, working with key sectors critical to Britain’s ability to trade and grow in the future – including the automotive industry, aerospace, low-carbon energy and others.
• Lib Dems will invest in major transport improvements and infrastructure to create a ‘Northern Economic Corridor’ – boosting growth, innovation and prosperity across North.
• Finally, the Lib Dems promise that they will ensure the tax system stays competitive, making SMEs the priority for any business tax cuts, and we’ll continue to focus on building a modern, flexible workforce -maximising the skills and talents of everyone.
• Double the number of employers with Apprentices in the next Parliament.
• Implement the changes set out in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill now completing its passage through Parliament to make government procurement more efficient and fairer to SME.

Green Policies for SME

Green Policies for SME

Green Party Election Policies for Small Business

Background and Principles

Many people are attracted by the autonomy and personal flexibility which self-employment can bring. It is this independence which the Green Party wish to foster by introducing the Citizens’ Income scheme (EC730). Large numbers of the self-employed are more exploited, and have less freedom, than their waged counterparts. It is therefore necessary to provide appropriate protection for people who work in certain trades.

Policies

The following Acts will be adapted to include protection for the self-employed:

i) The new equal pay act and legislation on discrimination will apply to contracts between businesses;
ii) The government will provide funds to enable the self-employed to claim the rights to maternity and parental leave, based upon both their average income and hours worked;
iii) Contracts should include clauses outlining compensation to be paid by the employing organisation where the agreed contract is revoked by them, prior to the work taking place;
iv) Legal enforcement of the payment for contracts will be dealt with by the Labour Courts. There will be penalties for large organisations failing to pay promptly to smaller businesses. The self-employed will have access to the inspectorate to enforce such claims;
v) Unemployment pay will be available to the self-employed on equal terms to paid employees.
Discrimination against early leavers in occupational pension schemes will be outlawed.

Small business policies:

• Simplify PAYE by aligning the lower National Insurance limit with the personal allowance and abolishing the upper limit. In the long run, aim to merge National Insurance into Income Tax.
• Make it illegal for a contract with a self-employed person to imply a pay rate below the national minimum wage.
• Amend planning laws to allow appropriate small businesses to operate in residential areas and ensure all large new retail developments include spaces for small local businesses.
• Help small businesses cope with regulation and provide tailored advice on energy efficiency.
• Introduce a network of local community banks, which will provide, among other things, a new source of finance for small businesses.
• Use their proposals to revitalise the Post Office network, in particular to help small businesses.
• Provide special help for small rural businesses.
• Introduce legislation to penalise late payment.
• Reduce corporation tax for small firms to 20%.

In practice

Green councillors have helped to earn a fairer rent deal for seafront traders. After the Conservative-led Brighton & Hove City Council hiked rent and other costs for many seafront businesses, members of the Seafront Business Association asked local Green Councillors for help.

Through a Freedom of Information request Green Councillors revealed a council deal with private chartered surveyors, who would receive a commission of 30 per cent on any rent increase they could negotiate with the seafront traders, on top of their fixed fee.

As a result, the assessment of the majority of seafront rents has now been handed to a new in-house team; the result should be fairer rents for traders.

The SNP claim to be the only party offering an alternative to austerity, and support for Scottish businesses who are being held back by the Westminster cuts agenda.

• SNP intend to continue the successful policies of the SNP Scottish Government such as the Small Business Bonus, and call on the UK Government to learn from Scotland’s successful approach to industrial relations.
• Push for legislation to ensure small businesses are paid on time, an increase in infrastructure development to improve transport and communication links and continue to press the UK Treasury to support the Scottish oil and gas industry.
• Seek to ensure small business are paid on time as they face an increasing volume of late payments.
• Press for early devolution of Air Passenger Duty (APD) for the Scottish Tourism Sector so that they can encourage more direct flights to Scotland, with a reduction of 50 per cent and longer term plans to abolish APD altogether.
• Seek a funding boost for house-building to support jobs in the construction sector.
• Argue for Scotland and the UK to remain part of the EU so that Scottish businesses are not cut off from economic opportunities in Europe.
• Seek adequate transport infrastructure investment, with a particular aim of improving transport and communication links across the north of the UK.
• Seek additional investment to support a more rapid roll out of superfast broadband and 4G across Scotland.
• Encourage UK Governments to work co-operatively with business and employee organisations. The partnership approach which characterises industrial relations in Scotland should be adopted by UK Government too as it recognises that business productivity goes hand in hand with progressive workplace policies that help to grow the economy.
• Continue the Small Business Bonus through the next Scottish Parliament, making Scotland the most competitive location for business in the UK.
• Create targeted changes in tax allowance.

Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru

Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru Election Policies for Small Business

Plaid Cymru note that the backbone of the Welsh economy is made up of 200,000 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). In fact, 94% of Welsh businesses are classed as micro businesses – businesses that employ less than 10 people.

For these businesses, ‘business rates’ represent a significant proportion of total operating costs, and a much bigger proportion than they do for large businesses. The ‘Small Business Rate Relief Scheme’, a Plaid Cymru manifesto commitment delivered in government, is therefore crucial for Welsh businesses and for the Welsh economy as a whole.

If Wales want businesses to expand, to employ more people and contribute more to our economy, it has to be easier for them to survive so the burden of taxes and rates has to be lessened and businesses can then use that money to feed their expansion. Doing so will also make it easier for new businesses to enter the market, contributing further to Wales’ economic recovery.

• A Plaid Cymru government would extend the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme to give businesses with a rateable value of £10,000 or less, 100% relief from business rates while giving tapered relief to those between £10,001 and £15,000.
• A second tier of business rates, applicable to large businesses will have particular benefits for town centres, many of which are struggling to compete with the growth in out-of-town retail parks.
• Making town centres more vibrant and economically active will have exponential benefits for the Welsh economy, bringing more people into the town centres and getting them to spend their money locally, keeping more of the Welsh pound circulating in Wales.

Labour Election Policies for Small Business

Labour promise that the tax burden on small businesses will be lower than under the Tories. They will put small businesses first in line for tax cuts and ensure smaller firms have the support they need to invest, innovate and raise their productivity.

Labour’s plan to back Britain’s small businesses will:

• Put small businesses first in line for tax cuts. Labour promise to cut and then freeze businesses rates for 1.5 million small business properties with a rateable value of less than £50,000.
• Tackle late payment. There will be a new requirement on larger businesses to set out the extent of late payment they have been responsible for, and the action they have taken to compensate suppliers. Labour will also give business organisations like the Federation of Small Businesses the right to take cases on behalf of their members.
• Ensure Britain has the most competitive rate of corporation tax in the G7 and continue supporting the Employment Allowance.
• Establish a proper British Investment Bank to boost lending for small businesses to grow and create jobs. All funds raised from the planned increase in the licence fees for the mobile phone spectrum – estimated to be up to £1 billion in the next Parliament, subject to Ofcom consultation – will be allocated to Labour’s British Investment Bank.
• Increase competition in the banking sector so that small firms get a better deal, following the Competition and Markets Authority inquiry.
• Reduce unnecessary regulation by asking the new Small Business Administration (SBA) – which the FSB has called for – to co-ordinate work across government to benefit smaller businesses and cut unnecessary regulation. Labour’s SBA will be given a remit to ensure regulations or requirements on small business are proportionate, appropriate, avoid any unnecessary burdens or compliance costs and are designed from the perspective of the smaller firm.
• Improve support for entrepreneurs and SMEs who want to grow rapidly. Leading British entrepreneur Simon Franks, who co-founded Love Film, is conducting a review for Labour on how they can best support early stage and high growth businesses which will be published in the coming months.

Confused?

Confused?

Over to you!

That’s it. I looked at Left Unity too but they didn’t have anything specific. Was there anybody else I should have included? What do you think of these election policies and promises? While there are some interesting ideas – there’s nothing hugely radical here. What would you like to see? You’re at the cutting edge. How can a future government support you (regardless of what your politics normally are)? Join the conversation on Facebook or drop us a line below.

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