10 Downing Street.

With Britain’s general election happening next week, tensions are running high across the nation. What will the outcome of the election be – and how will it affect you? After the financial crisis Britain has seen a fairly healthy turnaround, with annual increase in the number of new businesses started. The Small Business Federation says small to medium-sized business make up 99% of all businesses in the UK – so naturally they will impact the election, and many issues have been given substantial attention;

Tories and Labour both vow no increase to NI, income tax or VAT – whilst the Green party want to reduce further. The Green party is also the most radical when it comes to minimum wage – increasing it to £8.10 this year, and £10 by 2020. Labour and SNP also promise to increase minimum wage to at least £8 and £8.70 respectively, with SNP emphasising the good this will do for local communities and economies.

Zero-hour-contracts is also mentioned by all, although the parties differ in their approach, with the Liberal Democrats saying they ‘recognise the need of flexible employment contracts’ but that they will introduce ‘formal right to request fixed contract’ instead.

Late payments from big companies to small suppliers and businesses is one that sees all parties united – all saying they will enforce tighter rules to ensure prompt payments; The Green Party say they will ‘enforce legislation’ and UKIP will take ‘firm action’.

The business rates have also been under scrutiny – Labour say they will cut then freeze the rates, and UKIP offers a 20% rate relief if a business’ rateable value is less than £50,000 – this goes for single and multi-location businesses alike as long as the total value is less than £50,000.

Another topic is how small businesses have restricted access to finances which can help them grow and expand. The Liberal Democrats say they will expand the British Business Bank to give it a more central role in economy in a bid to tackle shortage of capital available to growing firms, as well as providing long-term capital to medium sized businesses. Labour’s plan is similar – to introduce a British Investment Bank with mission to help businesses grow by improving access to finance. Labour also say they will implement a Small Business Administration, with the aim of giving small businesses a voice in government.

Experts say predicting the outcome of an election has rarely been harder – and polls show little in terms of which direction it is going. What is certain is the increasingly important role small businesses play in Britain, and that their voice must be heard to facilitate continued economic growth.

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