After weeks of delays, false starts, U-turns, and awkward interviews, the major party manifestos are finally all in the public domain.
The Scottish National Party were the last out of the electoral stalls this week with their pitch to become the ‘real opposition’, while both Labour and the Conservatives have been defending their respective platforms for a couple of weeks, to varying degrees of success. The Liberal Democrats, UK Independence Party, and Greens have also all set out their credentials for Government.
In terms of the wider political narrative, the election continues to be a straight fight between Labour and the Conservatives. Meanwhile, the polls – which just a few weeks ago put the Tories nearly 20 pts ahead – have narrowed to the point where this week pundits are speculating about the likelihood of a hung parliament. For both major parties, there is now everything to play for. Theresa May will be banking on her foreign policy credentials (defence, Brexit) to see her over the line, while Jeremy Corbyn will hope voters are more concerned about domestic policy (social care, education).
Direct pitches to the British business community have arguably been less prominent this time around than in previous elections, but there is still plenty to chew over. Some of the key points from major parties on tax, business investment, migration, and infrastructure are below.
- Would continue with plans to raise the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000 by 2020.
- Would also continue plans to bring corporation tax down to 17% by 2019/20.
- Would not increase VAT but there is a potential for a rise in National Insurance Contributions
- Would guarantee no increase in income tax for those earning under £80,000. However, they will increase the additional rate to 50p for those earning over £125,000
- Would increase Corporation tax to 26% by 2020 but re-instate the lower rate for small business
- Would not increase in National Insurance Contributions or VAT
- Would introduce an excessive pay levy that will involve charging companies a 2.5% levy on earnings above £330,000 and 5% on those above £500,000
- Would support a rise in the additional rate of income tax to 50p across the UK by 2018/19. However, they stress that only increasing the additional rate in Scotland will not be possible without further devolved power on tax avoidance.
- Would oppose any proposed increases in VAT or National Insurance Contributions
- Would oppose any further reductions to corporation tax
- Would increase the Employee National Insurance threshold to the income tax threshold
- Would reverse cuts to corporation tax and capital gains tax, as well as reverse the increase in the inheritance tax threshold
- Would implement ‘a full-scale review into the burden of taxation and spending between generations to ensure that government policy promotes fairness between generations’
- Would boost the funding available to business from the British Business Bank. The extra cash will come from funds repatriated from the European Investment Fund
- Would also look at extending the benefits of the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), which offers tax relief on investments into growing businesses
- Would create a new National Investment Bank to increase lending to SMEs when traditional lenders are not meeting the needs of local businesses
- Would review the whole system of UK business tax reliefs to find efficiencies where schemes are having little impact
- Would ‘support the Institute of Directors’ calls for the further extension of the Annual Investment Allowance, which encourages firms to invest in plant and machinery, from the current £200,000 per year to £1 million per year’
- Expand the capacity of the British Business Bank to increase volume of equity capital going to business
- Require big banks to fund the creation of a local banking sector to ‘meet the needs of local SMEs’
- Create a new ‘start-up allowance’ to help entrepreneurs with the cost of living while starting a business
- Would aim to ‘reduce and control’ immigration. This includes a continued pledge to bring net migration to the UK down to the tens of thousands
- Would double the skills charge for businesses hiring workers from outside the EEA from £1,000 to £2,000 per annum
- The Migration Advisory Committee will be asked to recommend a new visa strategy
- Would offer ‘fair rules and reasonable management of migration’. Such a system would involve removing the requirement income threshold requirement for incoming migrants but also introduce a ‘prohibition on recourse to public funds. This suggests that under the rules, new migrants may not have access to welfare
- Would also reinstate the Migrant Impact Fund for areas where immigration has placed a particular strain on public services
- Would not include students within the official immigration numbers
- Would work for powers over immigration to be devolved to Scotland
- Would support the introduction of a post-Study work visa in Scotland
- Would re-instate the migrant impact fund
- Would remove students from the official migration statistics
- Would have no overall limit on migration
- Would ensure that foreign ownership of critical infrastructure does not undermine security
- Would target funding from the new National Infrastructure Productivity Fund towards infrastructure. This will ‘include £740 million of digital infrastructure investment’ and ‘£1.1 billion to improve local transport’
- Would include infrastructure investment in one of the new ‘Future Britain Funds’
- Would introduce a full fibre connection voucher for companies across the country by 2018
- Would create a new National Transformation Fund to invest £250bn in ‘upgrading our economy’ over the next 10 years
- Would complete HS2 and link to ‘Crossrail of the north’
- Would build a new Brighton Mainline to the South East
- Would deliver universal superfast broadband by 2022 and look to roll out 300Mbps broadband across the country within the next decade
- Would seek urgent clarity on long-term infrastructure funding previously available from the EU
- Would fight for investment into Oil and Gas and ensure that Scotland is ‘home to the UK’s first ultra-deep water decommissioning port and associated facilities’
- Would directly build homes to ‘fill the gap left by the market’ to reach 300,000 new homes being built per year
- Create 10 new garden cities in England
- Continue to invest significantly in infrastructure for the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine
- Give immediate go-ahead to the Swansea tidal lagoon project
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