2017 General Election Manifesto Highlights for SMEs - 1/3: Conservatives

A central part of any successful political campaign is the impact a party’s policies will have on
business. With the General Election just days away, we thought it would be interesting to take a
look at each of the manifesto pledges of the three main parties with a particular focus on what they could mean for small businesses. We’ll be publishing three blogs this week focussing on a different party, beginning with the Conservatives. 

The Conservative Party are often seen as - and have historically pitched themselves as - explicitly
friendly to businesses, and their 2017 manifesto is no different. Their planned reduction of
Corporation Tax to 17% would give the UK the lowest rate in the G20. This could be seen as a
hedge against the economic impact of the UK’s leaving the European Union, but either way it’s
likely to come as good news to SMEs. 

There will also be 1-year Employer’s National Insurance holidays available to businesses who
employ service personnel after they leave the military. 

Salaried employees will benefit from tax cuts, too. As well as the anticipated increase in the tax-
free personal allowance (to £12,500), the threshold for Higher Rate taxpayers will be raised to £50,000. This could be helpful for recruiters, as it represents an 8% increase in the real value of
salaries below that figure but above the current £45,000 threshold. 

As will the announcement that a Conservative government would introduce an initiative to ensure
that 33% of central government purchasing comes from SMEs. There will also be punitive
measures designed to benefit smaller companies - large contractors who do not comply with the
Prompt Payment Code will lose the right to bid for Government contracts. 

In a concession to the national debate around a Living Wage, rather than setting a per-hour figure, the Conservatives have opted for a median-earnings linked approach: their ‘living wage’ will be 60% of median earnings, increasing by the rate of median earnings. 

Recruiting from overseas will be more challenging. Following the UK’s decision to leave the EU
and the attendant debate around net migration levels, the manifesto also includes a promise to
increase the earnings threshold for migrants where sponsorship is sought for a family visa. 
In the long-term, the recruitment challenges presented by this higher threshold might be negated
by the Party’s plans to replace 13,000 technical qualifications with new “T-Levels”, along with Skills

Advisory Panels to address skills shortages on a local basis. Overall, it’s a generally business-friendly manifesto with the Conservative’s usual focus on individual prosperity, designed to make the UK an appealing place for companies to headquarter themselves post-Brexit. 

Follow us for tomorrow's post setting out the Labour maifesto highlights for SMEs.