What does Jeremy Corbyn’s victory mean for the self-employed?

Monday 21 September 2015

Now that things have settled down somewhat after the explosive Labour leadership election, many freelancers will be starting to wonder what the success of Jeremy Corbyn, previously regarded by many as an outsider in terms of his political views and prospects, could mean for their self-employed careers.

The next General Election will not take place until 2020, but the new leader is already attracting a great deal of media attention - not all of it positive, meaning that his suggested policies are likely to be of interest to many throughout the world of contracting.

As part of his leadership bid, Mr Corbyn set out a number of “Better Business” proposals, many of which appear to be aimed at evening out disparities between large and small businesses.

These include freezing business rates for small companies, as well as better enforcement of corporation taxes when it comes to big companies, some of whom are notorious for avoiding them. Self-employed people, who now make up 15 per cent of the UK’s workforce, have also been promised better social security benefits

These steps are clearly designed to appeal to voters’ sense of fairness, as well as playing up to the grievances of many small companies when it comes to competing with larger rivals.

In a speech made just before the launch of his business policies, Mr Corbyn said: “I will stand up for small businesses, independent entrepreneurs, and the growing number of enterprises that want to cooperate and innovate for the public good.

He added: “Britain's businesses complain that Britain suffers from a lack of investment in our energy, transport and digital infrastructure. Yet the government continues to cut public investment. I want a National Investment Bank to fund the infrastructure we need.

“My Better Business plan will level the playing field between small businesses and their workers who are being made to wait in the queue behind the big corporate welfare lobby the Tories are funded by and obsessed with.”

Mr Corbyn’s choice of Angela Eagle as his shadow business secretary is also a matter of some interest. Ms Eagle has previously served as a junior minister and minister under previous prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown respectively, along with former leader of the opposition Ed Miliband. This track record makes her something of a link to the more recent “New Labour” style of government in a way that some of Mr Corbyn’s other shadow cabinet selections (such as shadow chancellor John McDonnell) are not.

This decision suggests that Mr Corbyn is keen to reassure small businesses that his well-publicised left-wing views do not necessarily mean that he is opposed to supporting commercial ventures.

Of course, it is difficult to predict how effective these policies would be if implemented, and Mr Corbyn will have to deal with the small matter of a General Election before he can find out whether he will get the chance to put his proposals in place. This means that contractors still have plenty of time to do their research before deciding whether they will back Mr Corbyn or one of the other political parties at the ballot box.

By Victoria McDonnell

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