5 Key Points: Labour vs. Conservative Government for SMEs

Doesn’t five years pass quickly? It only feels like a couple of years ago we were last at the polls voting to give David Cameron a second term. Yet here we are, once again, scouring the manifestos to see what a vote for either of the main political protagonists would mean for us.

This time around, unprecedented challenges lay ahead regardless of the victorious party, with the potential impact of decisions reaching far and wide. But as a business owner, Brexit deal aside, what can you expect from the Labour Party or the Conservatives if they are elected? This is our completely neutral guide.

Business tax

Conservative – The government will keep the rate of corporation tax at the current 19 percent mark until April 2020, when it plans to reduce it to 17 percent. It also plans to simplify the tax system for small businesses.

Labour – The Labour Party intends to make significant changes to the current business tax regime, with the main rate of corporation tax rising steadily to 26 percent by 2020/21. Smaller businesses will be protected from these rises as those with annual profits below a £300,000 threshold will pay 20 percent in 2018/19 and 21 percent in 2021/21.

Labour also plans to exclude small businesses with a turnover of less than £85,000 from plans to introduce quarterly reporting and wants to introduce an excessive pay levy on companies with high levels of pay.      

Business Rates

Conservative – It is exploring the option of introducing self-assessment into the valuation process for business rates and plans to conduct a wide-scale review to make sure business rates properly account for online businesses.

Labour – Wants to exclude new investment in plant and machinery from business rate valuations and plans to switch from the Retail Price Index (RPI) to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) when inflating business rates. It also plans to assist businesses facing significant rate rises via a transitional relief fund and reduce the time between valuations.

Infrastructure

Conservative – Guarantees that every business in Britain will have access to high-speed broadband by 2020. It also claims that routine small business and consumer banking services will be offered by rural post offices.

Labour – Wants to roll out universal superfast broadband by 2022 across the UK and plans to appoint a ‘digital ambassador’ to work with tech start-ups to promote investment into British micro-businesses. The National Investment Bank and regional development banks will also identify funding gaps and help businesses that are unable to secure funding.   

Employment

Conservative – Will increase the National Minimum Wage to 60 percent of median earnings by 2020 and double the immigration skills charge levied on businesses that employ migrant workers to £2,000 a year. Employers will also be provided with amended health and safety regulations and a needs assessment for mental health.

Labour – Has proposed the introduction of four new public bank holidays and intends to raise the Minimum Wage to the level of the Living Wage by 2020. It also intends to ban all unpaid internships and zero-hours contracts and plans to shift the burden of proof so that a worker is assumed to be an employee unless the employer can prove otherwise.

Regulation

Conservative – Wants to ensure 33 percent of all central government purchasing comes from small businesses and intends to give all employees the right to request information relating to the future of their company. It also wants to give businesses the right to insist on a digital signature and cancel contracts digitally. Companies operating online will have to provide digital receipts and give clearer terms and conditions.

Labour – Any company bidding for a government contract must pay its own suppliers. It also wants to introduce fines for persistent late payers in the private and public sector.  

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