For contractors and the self-employed, it’s impossible not to be aware of the imminent general election, which has been dominating headlines for months.
Today (May 6th) is the eve of the election itself, with recent polls suggesting the vote will be one of the closest in recent memory. For many, this has been a source of uncertainty and tentativeness, as it becomes increasingly clear which party leader will hold the reins of power once all the votes are tallied.
Naturally, you’ll be wondering about what kind of policies the new administration will be implementing to govern self-employment, and whether they will be better or worse off as a result. Before we all sit and wait for the election results to come in, it’ll be valuable to consider the stated policies of the main parties in order to get a better idea of what is to come, or if you haven’t made your mind up yet, who to vote for.
The Conservative Party
The Conservatives frequently describe themselves as the party of business, and have therefore pledged a number of measures that could be beneficial to small firms and the self-employed.
David Cameron’s party will be hoping to attract votes with policies such as:
- the introduction of a new Small Business Conciliation service to mediate in disputes, especially over late payment
- eliminating £10 billion of red tape and bureaucratic processes
- raising the tax-free personal allowance to £12,500
- keeping corporation taxes at 20 per cent
- increasing the size of the Start-Up Loans programme threefold, allowing 75,000 entrepreneurs to borrow money to set up their own business
- strengthening the Prompt Payment Code to help combat late payers
- expanding the role of the Office of Tax Simplification on a permanent basis
- increasing the national minimum wage
The Labour Party
Ed Miliband’s Labour Party will be attempting to appeal to its traditional supporter base with measures aimed at empowering smaller organisations and working individuals. These include:
- a new lower 10p starting rate of tax
- a cut and subsequent freeze in business rates
- the abolition of exploitative zero-hours contracts, meaning those who work regular hours for more than 12 weeks will have right to a regular contract
- the launch of a Small Business Administration to improve the accessibility of procurement contracts and to ensure regulations are designed with small firms in mind
- a move to tackle rising costs for small businesses and strengthen rules on late payment
- a crackdown on offshore tax avoidance
- closing the loophole allowing firms to undercut permanent staff by using agency workers on lower pay
The Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg, will be pursuing their agenda of social justice and egalitarianism with a number of policies that will affect contractors directly. These include:
- opening up public procurement to more small and medium-sized companies
- completing the ongoing review of business rates to reduce the burden of smaller firms
- raising the personal allowance to £12,500
- completing the rollout of high-speed broadband to 99.9 per cent of properties, benefiting businesses that depend on web services
- ensuring employers cannot avoid allocating basic labour rights by wrongly classifying individuals as workers or self-employed
- cutting red tape curbing unnecessary red tape and exempting small businesses from certain EU rules, potentially including VATMOSS
With a hung parliament the likely outcome of the election, contractors should also be aware of the fact that another coalition government is expected, meaning the victorious leader may need to come to agreements with smaller parties – such as the Scottish National Party, the Green Party and UKIP – before deciding on their approach.
As such, contractors should try and keep themselves abreast of all the latest developments so they know where they stand in the new political paradigm.
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