With only a few days to go before the UK goes to the polls, this election has proved too close to call, with a number of topics dividing the different parties.
One area that has had a relatively small spotlight has been future plans for small businesses, so we trawled through the key parts of the three major parties’ manifesto to learn what David Cameron, Ed Miliband or Nick Clegg might do for SMEs depending who finds himself with the keys to 10 Downing Street after this Thursday.
Keep reading to find out what these parties offer small businesses and startups:
The Tories have been staking their claim to be the party of small business, publishing a letter this week signed by over 5,000 small firms stating they should be allowed to ‘finish the job they started’.
They have also released the “small business manifesto” in which they outline plans to cut £10bn in red tape as well as set new targets for one third of central government procurement to be from small firms. The Conservatives have also suggested that they will treble the number of start-up loans to 75,000 to boost entrepreneurship.
A “Help to Grow” initiative would be introduced to provide £1Billion in funding for companies to go from small to medium. The manifesto has also made a commitment to address the “disadvantages faced by the self-employed” with an urgent review and will a new Small Business Conciliation service to mediate in disputes, especially over late payment.
Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna has committed to the creation of a new Small Business Administration (along the lines of a similar US system) to stand up for small businesses in central government. The body would be directed to ensure procurement contracts are accessible and “regulations are designed with small firms in mind”.
Ed Miliband has announced plans to a British Investment Bank, which will be established to lend SMEs money as well as to support regional banks. Labour have also declared they would freeze business rates and energy bills for over 1.5 Million SMEs.
Labour have announced plans to increase the minimum wage by 2019, but are offering tax rebates for those small businesses who increase their wages to the new higher rate of £8 per hour ahead of the planned introduction.
Like the Conservatives, the Lib Dems find themselves with a record they want to defend on small business issues. It should be no surprise that they want to further build further on the British Business Bank introduced by Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable, which offers access to various funding options for SMEs.
Nick Clegg has also used their manifesto to highlight the nationwide rollout of high speed broadband, covering 99.9% of the population, subsequently fuelling a wider network of start-ups, entrepreneurs and SMEs across the UK.
SMEs: The next political battleground?
By taking a snapshot of what each of the main parties offer SMEs, you might think that it’s all quite similar.
However, what’s clearer than ever is the power that small businesses have and how important they are to the economic growth in the UK over the next five years.
Only on the days directly after the final vote has been counted, can we start to see how SMEs will fair in the new political landscape.
Over the coming weeks we’ll be covering some of the wider issues that affect SMEs. Keep visiting our Small Business Centre to stay updated with the latest news.