What does the Conservative manifesto mean for contractors?

Thursday 16 April 2015

The day after the launch of Labour’s 2015 election manifesto, the Conservatives have unveiled their own blueprint for the future of the UK over the next five years. Naturally, self-employed people will be keen to see what the party has to offer them, so they can make a fully informed decision when they take to the polls on May 7th.

The BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson described the parade of manifestos as “political crossdressing”, as the Conservatives deploy policies designed to appeal to the working population, whereas Labour insisted it was a party of financial responsibility - positions Mr Robinson believes amount to a “rebrand” of both parties.

At the launch of his manifesto, party leader David Cameron said that the Conservatives were determined to make sure the UK was a “country where a good life is there for everyone willing to work for it".

One of the flagship policies for the Conservatives is raising the personal tax allowance from £10,600 to £12,500, effectively making the minimum wage tax-free for full-time workers.

In addition to this, the party also plans to raise the 40p tax threshold from £42,385 to £50,000. Working families with children aged between three and four would also be entitled to 30 hours of free childcare per week, effectively doubling the current allowance.

Like Labour, the Conservatives also plan to raise the minimum wage to £8 per hour, although at a slightly slower rate. According to the manifesto, the party would raise the minimum wage to £6.70 before the end of this year, before implementing the £8 rate by 2020.

Businesses have also been promised "the most competitive taxes of any major economy", with a review of business rates to take place before the end of the year. Further details on this point have yet to be clarified.

In terms of foreign policy, an in/out EU referendum has been enshrined in the manifesto, which could have a significant impact on trade for small businesses, and also has the potential to affect market confidence in the run-up to the vote.

Contractors and sole traders located in rural areas could also benefit from commitments to ensure that there is “near universal” access to superfast fibre broadband across the UK, particularly if they do a large portion of their business online. This is part of a wider pledge to spend £100 billion on infrastructure improvements over the course of the next parliament.

John Cridland, the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), told the BBC: "Progress has been made in cutting the deficit over this Parliament, and the Conservative Party's clear plans to continue the path of deficit reduction are welcome.”

However, he also added: “Business will want clarity over how manifesto commitments will be funded."
While the upcoming general election is set to be the closest seen for over 40 years, and levels of uncertainty remain high, it is clear that the working population and small businesses are a key target demographic for both Labour and the Conservatives. Whichever way you vote, this is something that should be taken into consideration when casting your vote.

By Victoria McDonnell

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