The Small Business Guide to the 2019 General Election

It’s important as a small business to be able to plan for the future. With the general election looming tomorrow, we look at the party manifesto’s to see what they are offering for small businesses in the UK over the next five years. How will the economic and business environment change for you? We have looked at the policies most likely to affect small businesses and hope you will find this useful in anticipating the likely impact on your business in the coming years.

If you would like to see the full manifesto’s you can find them, along with a glossary of terms, at the end.

Policy Area Conservative Labour Liberal Democrat Green Brexit
Corporation Tax Maintain at 19% Raise to 26%, Review Reliefs Raise to 20% Raise to 24% No tax if your profits are below £50,000. 
Employment Allowance Increase it No change No change Increase to £10,000 No change
Business Rates & Town Centre Support Review Business Rates Discount to small cinemas music venues and pubs.

A Towns Fund local economy

Consider replacing with a Land Value Tax. Replace with a Land Value Tax on landowners. 

Expand Future High Streets Fund to help town centres.

Replace with Land Value Tax on landowners. Replace with a simpler system and an online sales tax.
VAT No rise in VAT, Remove VAT from sanitary products. No increase in VAT. Maintain no quarterly reporting for businesses below VAT threshold Reduce vat on home insulation and sanitary products, cut VAT on electric vehicles.  Remove VAT exemption on flights. No VAT on UK hotels or holiday homes, reduce vat on food/ drink in bars, pubs & restaurants, or on theatre, music concert & museum & gallery tickets.  No VAT on domestic fuel.
Research and Development Raise R&D tax credit to 13%.

Review the definition of R&D to incentivise investments in cloud computing and data. 

Increasing direct support for R&D Allow companies to claim R&D tax credits against the cost of purchasing datasets and cloud computing £1.8 bn Invest in R&D.  Provide grants to companies for replacement of high carbon-emitting equipment. Support investment in medical R&D.
Infrastructure Investment` £20 bn a year £55 bn a year £26 bn a year £100 bn a year £10 bn a year
Transport Review HS2

Invest in new Railways and restore Beeching lines.

Replace Rail Franchise System.

£28.8bn for new roads. Electric car charging network.

Fund city regions to upgrade their trains and buses.

Airport expansion if can meet climate targets.

Complete HS2 to Scotland. Invest in new Railways.  Nationalise the Railways. Let local councils run bus services. Electrify the railways..  Free bus travel for under 25’s. Expansion of airports must meet climate change obligations.  Complete HS2, Invest in Railways & Electrify them,

Open Franchises up to competition from the public sector.

Freeze rail fares. 

Funding for bus services. Frequent flyer Levy. No Airport expansion. 

Scrap HS2.

Invest in local Railways Electrify the railways. 

Nationalise rail & get Councils to run all local short journey rail services.

Electric car charging network. 

No new roads or AIrport expansion. Frequent Flyer Levy. Reduce the cost of buses.

Scrap HS2, Invest in local rail and roads.
Broadband Full fibre and gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025. Nationalise BT internet, provide free full-fibre broadband to all by 2030. Worst hit communities prioritised for broadband roll-out.  £2 billion on high-speed broadband, Prioritise small businesses in roll- out of hyper-fast broadband.

Superfast broadband for all households. 

Roll out high-speed broadband & better connect rural areas.  Free basic broadband in deprived regions
Wages National Living Wage up to ⅔ average earnings (£10.50 an hour) by 2024. Immediately £10 an hour for all workers regardless of age. Consult on how to set a genuine Living Wage across all sectors. – 20% higher wage for zero-hour contracts. £12 an hour for all workers regardless of age.

Max wage 10x the lowest wage in a firm. 

No information
Employment Regulation Single enforcement body to crack down on employers abusing employment laws.

Ensure workers have right to request more predictable contracts and consult on making flexible working the default.

New right to leave for Neonatal care. Extend leave for unpaid carers to 1 week.

Ban zero-hour contracts and unpaid internships. Right to contract if work regular hours for 12 weeks.

Strengthen trade union rights. Bring in Sectoral bargaining to increase wages.

Strengthen rights for whistleblower, pregnant and terminally ill workers.

Breaks between shifts and cancelled shifts must be paid. 

Right to flexible working for all.

Extend maternity pay to 12 months, and paternity pay to 4 weeks. 

Introduce bereavement leave. 

Move towards 32-hour working week within 10 years. Workers on large company boards.

Workers on large company boards. New worker protection enforcement authority.

Everyone have right to flexible working. Strengthen union ability to represent workers.  

All employers must recognise trade unions. 

Quota of 40% women on company boards.

No information
Payments To Small Business Tackle late payments to small businesses, strengthen the powers of the small business commissioner. 

Support startups and small businesses through government procurement and commit to paying them on time.

Tackle payments to small businesses, ban late payers from public procurement. Require all government agencies, contractors, & large companies to sign up to the prompt payment code, making it enforceable. Require big businesses to publish and report the difference between agreed payment days and actual payment days. Fine large companies that fail to pay small businesses on time.  No information
Small Business Funding Continue the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and Enterprise Investment Schemes.

Expand start up loans through the British Business Bank.

Regional Development Banks and Post office bank to provide finance for small business & Coops.  British Business Bank to help new UK digital startups.  Provide companies with grants to replace polluting equipment

Create Regional mutual banks to lend to small businesses. Grant 15% of government contracts to small businesses. 

Boost lending to Small and Medium Enterprises
Entrepreneurs Support Launch review into how to better help the self-employed, including access to finance and mortgages. Support and protections for self-employed including collective income protection insurance schemes, and better access to mortgages & pension schemes.  Expand the rights/benefits such as parental leave and pay to the self-employed. Create a new ‘start-up’ allowance to help people starting new businesses with their living costs in the first few weeks.

Mentoring support to fast-growing businesses.

Universal basic income for everyone of £89 a week which could help when starting a business. No information
Brexit Leave the EU by 31st January 2020 Renegotiate deal within 3 months and hold “deal vs remain” referendum within 6 months. Stop Brexit. Revoke Article 50 if win a majority, if not support a second referendum and campaign for Remain. Hold a second referendum and campaign for Remain. Priority is to Leave the European Union. 
Trade Keep UK out of single market and customs union,

Strike a new free trade deal with the EU by Dec 2020 but no extension to transition period if this isn’t achieved. 

Create Freeports.

Remain in a permanent customs union and maintain close alignment with the Single Market.

Reject trade deals that conflict with climate principles.

Work within the EU to ensure that future trade agreements require high environmental and animal welfare standards. Refuse trade deals with countries that oppose Paris climate agreement. Commit that any future trade deals will maintain and enhance environmental and food standards and workers’ rights. Reduce import tariffs.

Create Freeports.

Immigration End free movement and replace with Australia Style points system.

New visas for students, NHS workers and entrepreneurs.

Free movement stays if we stay in the EU. If we leave, it depends on the outcome of negotiations. Maintain Free Movement Maintain Free Movement End free movement and replace with Australia Style points system. 
Education & Apprenticeships National skills fund worth £3 billion.

Look at how to improve the Apprenticeship Levy.

Free lifelong entitlement for all up to level 3, and 6 years training at level 4-6. 

Can use Apprenticeship levy for other accredited training and raise it from 25% up to 50% that can be transferred to non-levy paying employers.

£10,000 ‘skill wallet’ for each person to gain new skills/ training during their lives. Invest 2 billion in training and skills.

New apprenticeship schemes in the repair and recondition sector.

Scrap Apprenticeship Levy. Introduce a new workable Apprenticeship scheme. Improve tax incentives for employers to take on apprentices.
Childcare £1 billion fund to create more childcare places, including after school and in the holidays. 30 hours a week free pre-school education for 2-4-year-olds. Extend childcare for one-year-olds.  Free 35 hours childcare for children aged 2-4, and while parents are in work when 9 to 24 months old.   35 hours a week free childcare from the age of 9 months. No information
Other Business Policies Red tape challenge to reduce regulation and always consider the needs of small businesses when devising new rules.

Raise National Insurance threshold to £9500 immediately and £12,500 over time.

Review and reform Entrepreneurs Relief.

Nationalise Royal Mail, Water companies and National Grid.

Inclusive Ownership Fund where 10% shares in large companies become owned by workers.

Require all products to provide a short, clear version of their terms and conditions, setting out the key facts as they relate to individuals data and privacy. Offer free Energy Efficiency Training to Businesses.

Create a “right to repair” to require manufacturers to create products that last longer.

Invest in strategic industries such as steel, railways and defence.

Transitional relief to key sectors such as the automotive industry.

Overhaul financial services regulation and cut red tape. 


Here are the full manifestos for each party.



Liberal Democrats

Green Party

Brexit Party


Glossary of Terms

Employment Allowance – a £3000 allowance for employers which means they don’t pay employers national insurance on their employees. 

Free Ports – ports where there are no tariffs applied as long as the goods enter and exit the port without going further into the country. 

Single Market – a single territory without internal borders or other regulatory obstacles to the free movement of goods and services.

Customs Union – a union where there are no tariffs or non-tariffs barriers to trade between members and there is a common external tariff imposed by all members on goods entering the union territory. Also does common trade deals for all members. 

Article 50 – the rule that allows a country to inform the EU that they wish to leave. 

Free Movement – The right of any EU citizen (including British citizens) to travel, live or work in any other EU country. 

Sectoral Bargaining – Trade unions and businesses negotiate an agreement on wages that covers all workers in a sector of the economy.

Apprenticeship Levy – A levy on large firms where they must invest in Apprenticeships either in their own business or in their supplier/ customer businesses.

Frequent Flyer Levy – a tax on those who fly often, especially on domestic flights. 

Enterprise Investment Schemes – Tax relief to encourage investment in small companies.

Land Value Tax – a tax on the value of the land itself rather than any buildings on it.

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