What will the general election mean for business owners?

With the general election looming on the horizon, the key parties are honing their policies and starting to pull out all the stops when it comes to showing the country what they could achieve if they win those all-important votes. Whatever your political leanings happen to be, it’s definitely worth considering what the overall result could mean for you as an employer.

Results from a very recent Guardian/ICM opinion poll suggest that it’s going to be a close fight, with 36% of respondents stating that they intend to vote Conservative, and 32% swinging in the direction of Labour. Interestingly, Liberal Democrats, UKIP, and the Greens came in at 10%, 9%, and 7% respectively.
It was also clear that parties’ approaches to employment were a big factor in the decision making process, with ‘jobs, prices, and wages’ being the second most important issue swaying voters, only behind the NHS.

Let’s take a look at what the party leaders are saying, and how this could impact your business if they get into power.

Conservative leader David Cameron recently urged businesses to give their employees a pay rise, stating that with wages currently increasing faster than inflation, it’s vital to the economy and to individuals that the trend continues. It’s a tactic that will surely impress some, as let’s face it, everyone wants to enjoy a better standard of living.

Of course though, critics were skeptical. TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady dismissed Cameron’s comments, saying: ‘Since David Cameron became Prime Minister, the average wage is worth £2,500 less a year, the worst fall in living standards since Queen Victoria was on the throne. Saying it would be nice if wages went up is no more than pre-election mood music. If elected again his policies would do the opposite.’

It’s true that he’s failed to put his money where his mouth is and implement an immediate and significant increase to national minimum wage.

Ed Miliband’s Labour pledges haven’t always been greatly received by the business community, though his recent presentation at a Jaguar Land Rover factory in Wolverhampton included proposals that are likely to win over those sitting on the fence.

He spoke of an ‘apprenticeship guarantee’, to be funded by private businesses bidding for public sector contracts, and promised to grow the economy ‘from the middle out, not from the top down’.

Christian May, head of campaigns at the Institute of Directors, was particularly impressed by the new direction, saying: ‘Business and enterprise must be supported and celebrated, not just tolerated. In particular, Miliband’s focus on creating long-term value by boosting productivity and addressing the skills gap will win the support of employers.’

Still though, there hasn’t been any further comment on Labour’s position on the 50p tax rate. There’s strong evidence that reinstating the tax would do more harm to the economy than good, and it’ll no doubt be a big consideration for many voters.

It’s clear that whatever happens in polling stations across the UK on 7th May this year, big changes could be ahead. The proposals at the moment are just that, and it’ll be interesting to see exactly where the focus is placed once the election campaigns get pushed up another notch.

Stay tuned for further updates, and guidance on what you need to do as a business owner, as more information becomes available.

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