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The 2024 UK General Election: A guide for SMEs

25/06/2024

As 4th July approaches, the outcome of the upcoming election could have a significant impact on businesses across the country, affecting their operational and financial landscape. We’ve pulled together an outline of the most prominent parties’ manifestos to provide an objective overview of the proposals that could impact UK businesses.

What matters to my business?

The election could have a significant impact on trading for many businesses from changing taxation, business rates and financial support and employment law to workers’ rights and late payments. Innovation, technology and environmental policies, as well as trade and EU relations, are vital areas of interest for many businesses trying to predict what lies ahead for them.

What are the most prominent parties proposing?

There are common themes across the  parties, with a focus on addressing business rates, supporting high streets and promoting innovation. However, the approach of each party differs significantly, particularly regarding taxation, EU relations, environmental policies and regulatory frameworks.

Conservative Party:

– Reduction in National Insurance Contributions, with the aim of cutting to 6% (from 12%) by 2027. Long term ambition is to scrap NI entirely.

– Pledge to not increase corporation tax and capital gains tax

– Business rates support package of £4.3 billion across five years

– Exploring options to smooth the VAT threshold cliff edge at £90,000

– Improving access to finance for SMEs, including through expanding Open Finance

– Tackling late payments by promoting digital invoicing and improving enforcement of the Prompt Payment Code

– Keeping tax incentives like the Enterprise Investment Scheme, Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and Venture Capital Trusts

– Ensure that Basel III capital requirements do not inhibit lending to SMEs

– 30 hours/week free child care from 9 months to support working families

– Work with public sector organisations to ensure that procurement opportunities are focused on SMEs where possible and practical

Read the full Conservative party manifesto 

Labour Party:

– Pledge not to increase National Insurance, income tax rates or VAT

– Capping corporation tax at 25% for the next parliament

– Replacing business rates with a “fairer system for bricks and mortar businesses”

– Retaining a permanent full expensing system for capital investment and annual investment allowance for small business

– Increasing high street banking hubs – plan to open 350 over five years

– Reforming the British Business Bank, including a stronger mandate to support growth in the regions and nations, to facilitate access to capital for SMEs

– Taking action on late payments to ensure small businesses and the self-employed are paid on time

– Reforming the apprenticeship levy into a new growth and skills levy

– “National procurement plan” to improve access for small businesses to public sector contracts

– Ensure industrial strategy supports the development of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) sector

Read the full Labour party manifesto 

Liberal Democrats:

– Abolishing business rates and replacing them with a levy for commercial land owners

– Tackling late payments by enforcing the Prompt Payment Code for large companies and government agencies

– Ensure SMEs have access to capital through expansion of the British Business Bank

– Power scale-up companies, especially outside of London and the South East, using innovative ways of ‘crowding-in’ private sector investment

– Aiming to join the EU Single Market to improve trade relations

– Unlock British businesses’ global potential, bring down trade barriers and use UK trade policy as a force

– Reviewing IR35 reforms to ensure fair treatment of self-employed people

– Creating a regulatory framework for AI that promotes innovation while creating certainty

– Replacing the apprenticeship levy with a broader skills and training levy

– Fix the work visa system and expand the Youth Mobility Scheme to help address the labour shortages

– Modernise employment rights to make them fit for the age of the ‘gig economy’

– Expand parental leave and pay and fix the statutory sick pay system

Read the full Liberal Democrats manifesto 

Green Party:

– Bringing the Prompt Payment Code into law and excluding late payers from public procurement contracts

– Increasing the minimum wage to £15 an hour, offset for small businesses by increasing the Employment Allowance to £10,000

– Equal employment rights for all workers from their first day of employment, including those working in the ‘gig economy’ and on zero-hours contracts

– Committing to not increase corporation tax

– Setting up regional mutual banks to drive investment in decarbonisation and local economic sustainability

– Aligning capital gains tax rates with income tax rates

– Moving towards a four-day working week

– Investing £12.4 billion in skills and training for the green economy

Read the full Green Party manifesto

Reform UK:

– Increasing the income tax-free threshold to £20,000

– Raising the minimum profit threshold for corporation tax to £100,000

– Abolishing IR35 rules

– Increasing the VAT threshold to £150,000

– Eliminating business rates for small and medium high street businesses

– Introducing an online delivery tax at 4% for large, multinational enterprises

– Cutting entrepreneur’s tax relief to 5%

– Creating SME enterprise Zones in “left-behind areas” with tax incentives

– Reforming employment laws to make hiring less risky

– Introducing tax relief for businesses that undertake apprenticeships

– Proposing to “scrap EU regulations with immediate effect”

– Preparing for renegotiations on the EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement

Read Reform UK’s full manifesto 

Scottish National Party (SNP):

– Push for Scottish independence and EU membership

– Review immigration rules to enable businesses access to required workforce

– Advocacy for lower VAT rates in specific sectors

– Devolution of tax powers to create a fairer system to protect public services and invest in the economy

– Focus on AI research and investment

– Proposals for enhanced and extended maternity leave

– Sustainable funding for farming

– Devolution of powers over energy regulation, pricing and production

– Devolution of employment rights – “scrap exploitative zero hours contracts and take action to close the gender pay gap”

Read the SNP’s full manifesto 

Is your business prepared?

A general election can bring both challenges and opportunities. Staying informed and adaptable can help position your business to thrive under any new policy landscape. Contingency planning can be crucial during times of uncertainty. If you need assistance regarding funding support as we navigate these potential changes, our experienced team is here to help.

 

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  • Clear Factor
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