General Election 2024: A guide to the political parties' pledges for small businesses

General Election 2024: A guide to the political parties' pledges for small businesses

Ahead of the UK General Election on 4 July, we’re tracking what the political parties are promising for small businesses and the self-employed.
Full election manifestos have yet to be published, but see below for what the parties have said about their support for small businesses.
As new pledges are made, we are keeping this post updated.


Conservative Party
The Conservatives have committed to “five priorities”:
- “Halve inflation to ease the cost of living and give people financial security”
- “Grow the economy to better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the country”
- “Reduce debt to secure the future of public services”
- “Cut waiting lists to get people the care they need more quickly”
- “Stop the boats to end the unfairness of illegal migration”
In other promises relevant to small companies, the Tories say they will keep inflation low, follow a “long-term ambition to abolish National Insurance” and double free childcare.
Before the election was announced, the Conservatives said its “long-term plan for towns” means 75 towns will get £20m each over 10 years to invest in local priorities such as “bringing life back to high streets, cutting crime, improving local transport and creating new jobs”.
During the election campaign on 1 June, the party said another 30 towns will receive the £20m funding.
Decisions on how to spend the money will be made by new “town boards”, comprised of local business people and council officials.
The Conservative Party has announced a pledge to deliver 100,000 more apprenticeships every year by “scrapping rip-off degrees”.


Labour Party
The Labour Party has five “missions”:
- “Get Britain building again”
- “Switch on Great British Energy”
- “Get the NHS back on its feet”
- “Take back our streets”
- “Break down barriers to opportunity”
The party has also published its “five steps to change”, the first of which is “deliver economic stability with tough spending rules, so we can grow our economy and keep taxes, inflation and mortgages as low as possible”.
In its plan for small business, Labour makes several promises that include:
- Tackle late payments by legislating to require the audit committees of big businesses to report on their company’s payment practices
- Scrap business rates and replace it with a system of business property taxation that is “fairer for bricks and mortar businesses”.
- Revitalise high streets by tackling anti-social behaviour with new town centre police patrols, creating a new specific offence of assault against retail workers, and giving councils powers to take over empty shops and reopen them.
- Boost small business exports by publishing a trade strategy that businesses have helped shape, looking at ways to remove the barriers to exports for firms of all sizes, improving guidance to make exporting easier, “make Brexit work by improving on the Conservatives’ thin deal”, and pushing for an EU visa waiver for UK touring artists.
- Focus on skills with new technical excellence colleges connected to local economic needs, and reforming the apprenticeship levy as a new growth and skills levy.
- Cut energy bills for small businesses, create commercial opportunities for them and deliver security with a “cheaper, zero-carbon electricity system” by 2030.
- Make the UK “the best place to start up and scale up” by reforming the British Business Bank to better support SMEs in regions across the UK and unlocking the supply of patient capital for technology-intensive, early stage businesses.
- Improve small businesses’ access to public sector contracts with a “national procurement plan” that includes cutting red tape and requiring that at least one small or medium sized business makes the shortlist when any smaller, suitable contract goes out to tender.


Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrats unveiled the ‘For a Fair Deal’ plan at the party’s autumn party conference in 2023.
In a section covering business, the promises include:
- Reforming business rates.
- Developing an industrial strategy to incentivise businesses to invest in new clean technologies.
- Bringing down trade barriers with Europe using a four-step roadmap.
- Providing incentives for businesses to invest in training, take up digital technologies, and become more energy efficient.
- Introduce a general duty of care for the environment and human rights in business operations and supply chains.


Green Party of England and Wales
In its political programme document, the Green Party promises:
- “Small businesses will benefit from a new community banking network, with a people’s bank for every city and region tasked with lending at fair rates to small businesses to help them grow.”
- “Increasing arts funding by £500 million a year, and removing VAT from tickets to live performances. We would increase funding for small-scale, local independent media organisations, both in print and online, helping them to break up the current concentration of our media in the hands of the few.”
- “We will give BT and other public telecommunications operators an obligation to provide affordable high-speed broadband-capable infrastructure to every business and to every household.”
- “We will help small businesses to create new jobs; reducing the proportion of National Insurance contributions small businesses have to pay.”
On Small Business Saturday in December 2023, the Green Party called for the following small business support measures:
- An additional £3bn in green transition grants for small businesses.
- Assistance for small businesses to decarbonise their transport needs.
- Support for small businesses to improve employee wellbeing, such as exempting all childcare providers in England from business rates.
- Reform of VAT to support small businesses and suspension of COVID-19 loan repayments.


Reform UK
In its “working draft contract”, Reform UK pledges in its first 100 days in power to deliver measures for small businesses including:
- Raising the minimum profit threshold for corporation tax to £100,000.
- Reducing the main corporation tax rate from 25% to 20%, then to 15% from year five.
- Abolishing IR35.
- Lifting the VAT thresold to £120,000.
- Abolishing business rates for small and medium sized high street businesses.
- Introducing a 4% online delivery tax at 4% for large, multinational enterprises.
- Cutting entrepreneur’s tax relief to 5%.
- Introducing SME enterprise zones with a period of zero tax for new or existing businesses that are creating jobs.
- Reforming the tax system.


by Dan Martin
Dan Martin Content & Events

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