What will the Labour leadership candidates do for the self-employed? Part one

Friday 28 August 2015

With the Labour leadership competition continuing to dominate the headlines, many contractors will be wondering what each of the candidates plans to do to support the self-employed.

To answer these questions, Open Democracy has compiled some of the things that each candidate has said regarding their small business and self-employment policies. Below are some of the things that each candidate has promised to do for businesses, focusing first on Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham.

Liz Kendall

Often regarded as the most right-wing of the leadership candidates, Liz Kendall has the backing of former prime minister Tony Blair.

She has chosen to focus on the need to provide loans to businesses of all sizes. She described finance as “what turns good ideas into commercial propositions. It’s what enables small companies to become larger and more productive.”

Ms Kendall also promised to be “aggressively and insistently pro-business” if she were to be elected as leader.

Her approach appears to be to focus on improving the ways that business is conducted all the way up the food chain. While her speech made no particular mention of contractors or small businesses, her promises to improve access to financial assistance are likely to appeal to contractors.

She also pushed for more competition within the banking sector, which would probably have the effect of lowering the cost of loans and other financial products. This could offset a potential decision by the Bank of England to raise interest rates, which is expected around the end of this year.

Andy Burnham

Former health secretary Andy Burnham is one of the more established candidates, having already run for leadership in 2010. In that race, which saw the appointment of Ed Miliband as leader, he came fourth.

In a speech made on July 15th, Mr Burnham expressed his desire for a future where “millions of self-employed people are better recognised and supported”.

As for how he plans to achieve this goal, he cited “long term public spending on investment”, as well as the hope of forming a “partnership” with businesses and self-employed people. He also discussed a need to review business taxes to make sure that smaller companies are not being placed under undue burdens.

He said: “It must be in the interest of both businesses and the wider economy that taxes are kept low on those struggling to start up and grow, with those who are established taking their fair share of the burden.”

This seems to suggest that Mr Burnham will be keen to collaborate with small business owners and the self-employed, in the hope that by creating favourable economic conditions for them, they will be able to generate more tax revenue and create jobs.

At this stage, there is still a lot that must be extrapolated from the candidates’ existing remarks. However, what is already available suggests that the ongoing race is likely to be of interest to contractors, regardless of which (if any) of the political parties they support.

The next article in this series will focus on the remaining two candidates, Yvette Cooper and Jeremy Corbyn.

By Victoria McDonnell

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