Election guide: Over one-fifth of SMEs don’t understand party policies

With the General Election just a week away, the usual political party smoke and mirrors act washed down with a good helping of rhetoric, has left many of the voting public unsure of what each party really offers.


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A recent YouGov survey commissioned by First Data Merchant Solutions (FDMS) found that over one fifth of SMEs in Britain admitted that they don’t understand the main political parties’ plans for small and medium businesses. 22% of those questioned said that their business is not sure how the main parties’ policies could affect small and medium businesses in the UK.

Whether the policies might bring changes to existing red tape, increase funding or ensure further support, there is still a sizeable chunk of the small business community that have been left in the dark as to how their businesses could be helped, or hindered. So, in simple terms, what are the main points that each party is pledging to do if granted the keys to 10 Downing Street, that might affect your business?

Conservative

  • Eradicate the deficit by 2018 (They promised to do this by 2015 in their 2010 manifesto).
  • Raise tax thresholds – Tax to kick in at £12,500 instead of £10,500. 40% tax rate to start at £50,000 instead of £41,900.
  • Create three million apprenticeships (to be paid for by benefit cuts).
  • Continue to try to reduce net migration to below 100,000 per year (currently 243,000).
  • Stop migrants from claiming certain benefits for first 4 years, such as tax credits or access to social housing.
  • Hold a referendum on EU membership by 2017, only after negotiating Britain’s membership terms first.
  • No increase in VAT.
  • Ban on zero-hours contracts which stop people getting work elsewhere.

Labour

  • Get the current budget into a surplus and the national debt falling “as soon as possible in the next parliament”. No additional borrowing for new spending.
  • Reintroduce the 50p top tax rate for those earning over £150,000, Bring back the 10p tax rate.
  • Guarantee a job for under 25s unemployed for over a year and adults unemployed for more than two years.
  • Create 1 million hi-tech green jobs by 2025.
  • Employment agencies who only recruit abroad to be banned. Fines for those employing illegal immigrants to be increased.
  • Push for reform of EU and prevent Britain ‘sleepwalking’ towards exit.
  • No increases in VAT or National Insurance contributions.
  • Ban ‘exploitative’ zero-hours contracts.

Lib Dem

  • Eradicate the deficit by 2018, paid for mostly by the most wealthy in society.
  • Raise tax threshold to £12,500 by 2020.
  • Increase capital gains tax from 28% to 35%.
  • Reintroduce exit checks at borders. Ensure migrants ‘earn’ their benefits entitlement.
  • An extra £1 an hour for the lowest paid apprentices.
  • Push for greater European Union efficiency.

UKIP

  • Increase the personal allowance to the level of full-time minimum wage earnings (about £13,500) by 2020.
  • Introduce a 35% income tax rate between £42,285 and £55,000. (40% rate payable above this).
  • Abolish inheritance tax.
  • Leave the EU. Cut foreign aid budget by £9bn.
  • Introduce an Australian-style points policy, so only the most skilled migrants come to the UK to work.
  • Reduce net immigration to 50,000 people a year.
  • Allow companies to offer jobs to British workers first ‘without the fear of being sued for discrimination’.
  • Scrap HS2.

Greens

  • 50% income tax on those earning over £100,000 a year. Wealth tax of 1% to 2% on those worth more than £3m.
  • Increase minimum wage to £10.
  • Introduce a ‘Citizen’s Income’, a fixed amount of £72 income a week to be paid to every individual, whether they are in work or not, to be funded by higher taxes on the better off and green levies.
  • Referendum on EU membership.
  • Migrants illegally in the UK for over five years allowed to stay. Increase legal rights for asylum seekers.
  • Allow councils to impose extra business rates on out-of-town supermarkets to fund small local businesses.
  • Commit Britain to a ‘zero-carbon’ future (No further details given).
  • Scrap HS2.
  • Create thousands of new jobs through a national energy conservation scheme.
  • Decriminalise cannabis. Decriminalise prostitution.

So there you have it. While this list is by no means comprehensive, it should serve as an aid for your decisions in the upcoming week. Happy voting!

You can see these policies and more at the BBC website