What are the politicians offering small businesses?

Can political parties buy the loyalty of small businesses with some pre-election rivalry? To see what the politicos were offering I did a quick scan of the General Election 2010 stories in the Telegraph in the past week.

Labour’s Mandelson is keen to cut red tape, the bugbear of SMEs, saying that not doing this would delay economic recovery. His Cabinet colleagues, such as Harriet Harman, are not so convinced. This April sees the introduction of Harman’s new paternity leave rules, which enable fathers to take up to six months off, while the mother goes back to work. Some people claim that this will impose more regulatory burdens on small companies.

The Tories have come up with a plan allowing people who sell their services through one-man (or woman) companies to ‘opt out of employment’. What does this mean? ‘Instead of paying 11pc Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NICS) on their income they would pay the £2.40 a week due under Class 2 NICs, which is paid by the self-employed,’ reports the newspaper, saying that the move would benefit 600,000 single-person businesses.

Yes, they would pay less, but they would lose the right to statutory redundancy pay, maternity pay and jobseekers’ allowance.

There was no news story for the Lib Dems, so I checked their manifesto on the Telegraph site and found a short briefing document on their business policy. One of their proposals is to allow SMEs to choose to be taxed on cash flow. This they say ‘would aid growing businesses who make accounting profits but reinvest their cash flow’.

There was no Green manifesto on the Telegraph site, just party news, none of it dealing specifically with small business. So I strayed from my original intent and went to the Green website, where I found a pledge made by party leader Caroline Lucas in May last year, ahead of the European elections. She promised to scrap VAT and merge national insurance and income tax to reduce bureaucracy.

Read all about it here

Would any of these measures persuade you to swap sides in your choice of political party?

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