Tuesday 8th June – the day that Britain votes on the future of parliament, the nation and its role on the global stage outside of Europe.
If you are still undecided, here is a summary of each parties manifesto and what that could mean for your business.
Brexit Leave the single market and customs union. Maintain a common travel area with a ‘frictionless’ border with Ireland. ‘No deal with the EU is better than a bad deal’. Reduce immigration to ‘sustainable’ levels, meaning annual net migration only in the tens of thousands.
Economy Balance the budget by 2025. Increase ‘national living wage’ to 60 per cent of median earnings by 2020. Replace the pensions triple lock with a double lock and means-tested winter fuel payments. Cap energy tariffs. Deliver 500,000 homes by the end of 2022 (in addition to 1 million homes by 2020).
Education Scrap free school lunches for infants and introduce breakfasts instead. End ban on grammar schools. Increase school funding by £4 billion. Build at least 100 free schools a year and ask universities and independent schools to help run state schools.
Health and social care People receiving care at home to pay for their own care costs, though £100,000 of their assets will be protected. Policy subsequently amended to set an ‘absolute limit’ on care fees. NHS spending to increase by £8 billion in real terms over next five years.
Foreign affairs and defence Increase defence budget by at least 0.5 per cent above inflation every year of the new parliament. Retain Trident and invest £178 billion in new military equipment over the next decade.
Theresa May’s parliament are seen to be working harder for businesses, with more of a focus on looking after Britain in the Brexit negotiations and investing in the UK economy.
Not everyone believes them. Chris Davies, managing director at DRS Bond Management says, ‘The Tories’ promise to reinstate the Board of Trade is cautiously welcomed although Theresa May has progressively ignored the counsel of business leaders since becoming Prime Minister. The U-turn over domiciliary care has made strong and stable, look weak and wobbly.’
Studies suggest that, although freelancers and contractors don’t feel supported by government, they will be looking to vote them back in. Qdos Contractor CEO Seb Maley says, ‘That nearly half of freelancers still plan to vote for The Conservative Party in the General Election, albeit feeling unsupported by them, raises perhaps a bigger question; who really is the Party for UK’s independent workforce? Nobody seems to know. Although the current government is not brilliant for contractors, other parties could be worse for small business.’
Brexit Scrap the Brexit white paper, replace it with a strong emphasis on retaining access to the single market and customs union. Reject ‘no deal’ as a viable option. Guarantee existing rights for EU nationals in Britain. Prioritise growth over ‘bogus immigration targets’.
Economy Eliminate deficit on day-to-day spending in five years. Raise minimum wage to £10 per hour, scrap zero-hour contracts. Build over 1 million new homes. Nationalise rail operators and Royal Mail. Transition to publicly owned energy system. Raise corporation tax to 26 per cent.
Health and social care Scrap NHS pay cap and commit to more than £30 billion in extra funding to the NHS over the next parliament. Increase social care budget by £8 billion. Ringfence mental health budgets, increase funding to GP services. Free parking for NHS England patients, staff and visitors.
Education Create a unified national education service that is free at the point of use. Abolish tuition fees, and reintroduce maintenance grants and education maintenance allowance for 16-to-18-year-olds from low and middle-income backgrounds. Free school meals for all children.
Foreign affairs and defence Spend at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence. Support the renewal of Trident. Put conflict resolution and human rights at the heart of foreign policy. Suspend further arms sales for use in Yemen conflict until an independent, UN-led investigation into alleged violations is concluded.
The much maligned Corbyn may have initially struggled to pose as a serious opposition to the Tories but his campaign has garnered praise for a focus on looking after ‘The many, not the few.’ A focus on renegotiating the Brexit whitepaper and renationalising much of Britains transport and mail services, as well as investment in the NHS.
Niels Turfboer, managing director UK and Benelux at Spotcap, says, ‘During the entire election campaign, all political parties have continuously stressed the invaluable and positive contribution SMEs make towards a healthy British economy as well as local communities.
‘Entrepreneurs and small businesses are worried about productivity, investment, growth and tax, as well as access to the EU market and workforce. SMEs have closely looked at the different election manifestos and will give their vote to the party which has tried the hardest to address these concerns.
‘The coming months and years hold many uncertainties for small business owners and it is therefore important that the next government does everything in their power to create a business environment in which SMEs can flourish.’
Dave Chaplin is CEO and founder of ContractorCalculator says, ‘If you earn a few quid, have never had to rely on the NHS, or don’t have loved ones that are less fortunate than you or don’t know people that have just been dealt a bad hand in life, then you might subscribe to the mantra that somehow you made it to where you are today because of simple hard work, no luck whatsoever, and that it’s just tough luck for all those other people, then you might vote based purely on how the outcome will effect you.
‘If however you subscribe to the idea that maybe there’s a bit more to it than that and you believe that those who have managed to come out on top have a moral obligation to contribute more than those that didn’t so that we all get an equal chance, a good education, and high quality healthcare then you might vote another way.’
Brexit Hold a second referendum following Brexit deal. Push for freedom of movement and for membership of the single market and customs union. Protect rights of EU citizens living in the UK, and UK citizens abroad. Make positive case for immigration. Reopen Dubs refugee scheme.
Economy Reverse cuts to corporation tax, capital gains tax and marriage allowance. Maintain the triple lock on increasing state pensions each year by the earnings growth, price growth or 2.5 per cent, whichever is highest. Reverse cuts to housing benefit for 18-to-21-year-olds.
Education Invest nearly £7 billion extra, increasing school budgets and the pupil premium. Triple early-years pupil premium to £1,000 and repeal rule that all new state-funded schools must be free schools or academies. Reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest university students.
Health and social care 1p rise on income tax, raising £6 billion a year, to be spent only on the NHS and social care. Mental health waiting time standards to match those in physical healthcare. Better integration of health and social care. Implement a cap on the cost of social care.
Foreign affairs and defence Control arms exports to states listed as ‘human rights priority countries’ by the Foreign Office. Suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Commit to spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence and maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent.
The Liberal Democrats look to hold a new referendum on Brexit to decide if it is truly something the nation wants and reversing corporation tax – a bonus for most, but a stinging blow for businesses.
Brexit Scotland to remain in the EU single market after Brexit. A second referendum once deal is reached. Scottish parliament to have control over immigration. Push for rights of NHS staff from Europe to live and work in the UK.
Economy Invest £118 billion in UK public services. Increase minimum wage to more than £10 per hour and ban zero-hour contracts. Back the top rate of income tax going up to 50p across the UK. Lift the freeze on benefits. Protect the triple lock on pensions and winter fuel allowance.
Education No grammar schools in Scotland. Expand early-years education and childcare to 30 hours a week for all three-to-four-year-olds and vulnerable two-year-olds. Abandon 1 per cent cap on public sector pay increases.
Health and social care Call on UK government to raise English health spending per head of population in England to current Scottish level, which is 7 per cent higher. Increase NHS Scotland budget by £2 billion.
Foreign affairs and defence Build a cross-party coalition to scrap Trident. Press for investment in conventional defence, including a promise to build new Type 26 frigates in Scotland. Immediate ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia pending investigation of Yemen conflict.
Brexit Stage a second referendum on accepting a Brexit deal. Push to remain within the single market and ensure UK-resident EU citizens can stay, with a mutual deal sought for Britons in the EU. Call for a humane immigration and asylum system.
Economy Introduce a universal basic income, and phase in a four-day week. Renationalise railways, buses, utilities and Royal Mail. Increase minimum wage to £10 per hour. Introduce a wealth tax on top 1 per cent of earners and a Robin Hood tax on transactions in the financial sector.
Education Scrap tuition fees, student debt and Sats. Reinstate student grants and the education maintenance allowance. Bring academics and free schools within local authority control. Increase real-term spending per pupil and provide free universal childcare.
Health and social care Undo privatisation of the NHS so that all health and dental services are publicly provided and free. Close the NHS spending gap and invest in GP services, hospitals, staff pay and social care. Bring mental healthcare in line with physical care.
Foreign affairs and defence Scrap Trident, saving £110 billion over 30 years. Increase the overseas aid budget from 0.7 per cent of GDP to 1 per cent of GDP. Pursue an ethical foreign policy that builds capacity for conflict resolution. End arms sales to oppressive regimes.
Brexit No ‘divorce payment’. Zero net migration over five years. Moratorium on low-skilled immigration for five years after Brexit. Introduce Australian-style points system. Allow EU citizens in the UK before triggering of article 50 to stay. Ban public face coverings. Blue passports.
Economy Raise threshold for paying income tax to £13,500, and raise 40 per cent threshold to £55,000. Cut VAT and green levies from energy bills. Require employers to advertise jobs to UK citizens first. Maintain pensions triple lock. Cut business rates by 20 per cent for low-value premises.
Education Open a grammar school in every town. Abolish tuition fees for science, technology, engineering and maths undergraduates, and aim to abolish all tuition fees. Restore maintenance grants. End sex and relationships education in primary schools.
Health and social care Increase NHS and social care spending by £11 billion a year. Limit non-urgent NHS care to British citizens or foreign nationals who have paid UK taxes for five consecutive years. Guarantee the right to remain of EU nationals working in the NHS.
Foreign affairs and defence Spend ‘a genuine’ 2 per cent of GDP on defence, and increase spending by an additional £1 billion per year by the end of the parliament. Close the Department for International Development and reduce the aid budget, with savings spent on the NHS. Retain Trident.
What can SMEs learn from the 2017 General Election?
Now that the Election has given us a hun parliament, with the direction of our nation hanging in the balance, we take a look at what this actually means for businesses and the lessons we can learn from Theresa May’s campaign.
Further reading on the 2017 General Election
Nominations are now open for the British Small Business Awards 2017, the leading event celebrating the brightest stars in the SME sector. Click here to enter, and make sure you get involved today using the hashtag #BSBAwards. Good luck!