In 2015, we teamed up with Crunch to write a piece on the impact the general election might have on freelancers. Looking back at the article today is remarkable. Labour lost it's identity, the Conservatives chose to shun the self-employed and there has been little to no movement on the key points that were raised, namely late payments and equal rights for the self-employed. As we shuffle into a post Brexit Britain 5 years later, we look back at the promises that were made to the self-employed in the UK and ask 'has anything changed?'. 

[1st July 2015] The recent general election was influenced by many things - Grant Schapps’ multiple identities, Ed Miliband’s multiple kitchens, David Cameron’s multiple favourite football clubs - but one of the biggest deciding factors when the ballots were cast was business support. While the Conservatives adopted a visibly pro-business stance, Labour focused on how they would punish the handful of big businesses needing a slap on the wrist, rather than how they would support the millions needing a leg-up.

When it was all said and done it cost them dearly, and Labour crashed and burned on the perception that they were anti-business. Not a smart move in a nation of shopkeepers. With Cameron and Osborne safely ensconced - for better or worse - in Downing Street once again, what does the Conservative Government have in store for the UK’s small business owners over the next five years? And can all the pro-business rhetoric that formed the basis of the Tory’s campaign be realised?

Equal rights for the self-employed

While almost every other party promised to enact equal rights (in terms of access to benefits such as paid unemployment and maternity / paternity benefits) for the self-employed, the Conservatives only promised a consultation on such action. There’s been no announcement about when the consultation might start, but with 4.5 million self-employed people up and down the country, the Government would be wise not to delay.

Late payments

One of the big ticket items for small businesses at the election, every party promised various action to tackle supply chain issues which often see the smallest suppliers paid slowest. The Conservatives’ solution is to set up a Small Business Conciliation service designed to mediate disputes between companies. 

The last Government attempted to tackle the problem by launching the Prompt Payment Code, which began life as a voluntary scheme before registration became heavily encouraged. Some months later it was revealed plenty of FTSE 500 firms registered for the scheme weren’t actually abiding by its terms - rendering the whole exercise rather pointless. We live in hope the new Government’s idea fares better. If you’re suffering in the meantime, grab our free credit control guide.

Personal tax

Under the last Government the Personal Allowance (the amount you can earn every year before you begin paying Income Tax) rose steadily every year, and the new Government wants to continue that trend, promising a Personal Allowance of £12,500. Ministers claim a Personal Allowance at this level would mean no Income Tax payments at all for the million lowest-paid workers in the UK.

Business Rates

Widely regarded as one of the more archaic business taxes around, it looks as though Business Rates are in for a heavy makeover in the next five years. As with many of these policies specifics are scarce, but this could be great news for shop owners or those with office space.

Red tape reductions

Another highly-publicised Government policy that ultimately fizzled - the Red Tape Challenge - looks as though it will be reheated and served to business owners again in the next five years. The scheme was a crowdsourced, Government 2.0 effort to allow members of the public to highlight burdensome red tape that should be scrapped. Ultimately only a handful of people participated and the original scheme’s dubious victories included reducing the sugar content a preserve must have in order to be classified as a jam (from 60% to 50%), and the repealing of a law which made it an offence to not report a grey squirrel on your land. Hardly the world-changing deregulation small businesses were promised.Business Secretary Sajid Javid claims there are £10 billion in savings to be made from further red tape reductions. The freelancers of the UK will be hoping the Government turns its red-tape-slashing gaze on IR35 rather than tasty spreads or small animals.

Crunch Accounting offer financial solutions to freelancers, startups and small businesses. For advice on how you can get your finances in order, get in touch.