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Labour’s Business Pledges: What They Mean for UK Businesses

Labour’s Business Pledges: What They Mean for UK Businesses

8 July 2024

Paul Francis

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As the Labour government assumes power this weekend, businesses across the UK are bracing for significant changes. Labour’s ambitious and comprehensive business pledges aim to reshape the economic landscape, focusing on infrastructure, finance, skills, and fair play. Here's an extensive look at what these pledges mean for businesses in the UK.

1. Brexit: Protecting Business Interests

Labour promises to renegotiate a Brexit deal that will secure a new customs union and a close single market relationship. This move aims to provide stability and continuity for businesses, ensuring that trade with the EU remains as frictionless as possible. The guarantee of rights and protections is particularly crucial for sectors reliant on international supply chains and skilled labour from Europe. By putting this deal to a public vote, Labour aims to settle the Brexit debate democratically, ensuring businesses can plan with certainty.

2. Transformational Infrastructure Upgrades

Labour's commitment to a £250 billion Green Transformation Fund and a £150 billion Social Transformation Fund signifies an unprecedented investment in the UK’s infrastructure. This initiative promises to bridge the infrastructure gap, improve transport networks, and support green technologies. Businesses can expect reduced operational costs and improved logistics, fostering an environment conducive to growth and innovation.

3. The UK National Investment Bank

The establishment of a £250 billion UK National Investment Bank and a network of Regional and National Development Banks aims to bolster small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and future industries. These banks will provide the necessary funding, promoting regional development and supporting businesses focused on innovation. This initiative will help close the funding gap that many SMEs face, enabling them to scale and compete globally.

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4. Publicly Owned Post Bank

Labour’s plan to set up a publicly owned Post Bank, operating through the post office network, will enhance access to finance for SMEs. With the largest branch network in the UK, the Post Bank will provide relationship banking and ensure every business has easy access to face-to-face financial services. This move is expected to democratize financial access, especially in underserved areas.

5. Business Development Agency

The creation of a Business Development Agency (BDA) will simplify the business support landscape. Acting as a one-stop shop, the BDA will offer comprehensive support, from finance to advisory services, modelled on successful international examples. This agency will be instrumental in promoting SMEs in government procurement and ensuring businesses can easily navigate the support available to them.

6. Tackling Late Payments

Late payments are a significant issue for SMEs, causing cash flow problems and stifling growth. Labour’s pledge to enforce 30-day payment terms for government contractors and implement a binding arbitration system with fines for persistent late payers will provide much-needed relief. This policy aims to create a fairer business environment where SMEs can thrive without the constant threat of financial instability.

7. Free Full Fibre Broadband

Labour’s promise to provide free full-fibre broadband to every business and household by 2030 is a game-changer. Reliable high-speed internet is critical for modern businesses, enhancing productivity and enabling digital transformation. This initiative will ensure that businesses, irrespective of their location, have the connectivity needed to compete in a digital economy.

8. Flexible Apprenticeship Levy

Labour’s proposed reforms to the Apprenticeship Levy will make it easier for employers to invest in training. By allowing the levy to be spent on all accredited training and extending the time frame for spending funds, businesses will have more flexibility to develop the skills they need. This change is set to create a more skilled workforce, tailored to the needs of modern industries.

9. Lifelong Learning for a Skilled Workforce

Labour’s commitment to universal lifelong learning will ensure businesses have access to a continuously evolving talent pool. By providing free education for adults and supporting workplace learning, this initiative will help businesses adapt to changing market demands and technological advancements. Employers will benefit from a workforce equipped with the latest skills and knowledge.

10. Preventing Bank and Post Office Closures

Labour’s pledge to stop bank branch and post office closures will ensure that essential financial services remain accessible to businesses. By broadening the duties of the Financial Conduct Authority, Labour aims to maintain the financial infrastructure that supports business operations, particularly in rural and underserved areas.

11. Increased R&D Investment

Labour’s plan to increase public investment in research and development by £20 billion will drive innovation and economic growth. By aiming to spend 3% of GDP on R&D by 2030, Labour is positioning the UK to be a leader in technology and innovation. Businesses can expect enhanced support for research initiatives, fostering a culture of innovation.

12. Ensuring Fair Play in Business

Labour’s commitment to creating a level playing field by tackling tax avoidance and unfair practices will benefit honest businesses. By properly resourcing HMRC and enforcing fair tax policies, Labour aims to create a business environment where all companies compete on an equal footing.

13. Reducing Energy Bills for Microbusinesses

Introducing a price cap for non-energy-intensive micro businesses will help reduce operational costs for many small businesses. Labour’s regulation to improve the handling of energy debts will ensure that businesses are not unduly penalized, supporting their financial stability.

14. Expanding Free Childcare

Labour’s expansion of free childcare to all 2-4-year-olds will make it easier for parents to return to work, increasing the available talent pool for businesses. This initiative will support working families and contribute to a more dynamic and diverse workforce.

15. Simplifying Tax Reporting

Scrapping quarterly tax reporting for businesses with a turnover under £85,000 will reduce the administrative burden on small businesses. This policy will allow business owners to focus more on growth and less on compliance, enhancing overall productivity.

16. Promoting Electric Vehicles

Labour’s plans to encourage the shift to electric vehicles by 2025 will support the transition to a greener economy. Businesses will benefit from reduced vehicle operation costs and contribute to environmental sustainability. The installation of EV charging stations will further support this transition.

17. Leveraging Government Procurement

Labour aims to stimulate economic growth and innovation by using government procurement to support SMEs. Conditions such as timely payment to suppliers and providing training opportunities will ensure that public spending drives positive economic outcomes.

18. Comprehensive Carbon Emission Measurement

Labour’s commitment to measure carbon emissions by consumption will provide a more accurate picture of the UK’s environmental impact. This policy will encourage businesses to adopt more sustainable practices and reduce the offshoring of emissions, promoting a greener economy.

19. Reforming Business Rates

Labour’s fundamental reform of the business rates system will ease the financial burden on traditional high streets and town centres. By excluding new investment in plant and machinery from valuations, Labour aims to encourage business investment and growth.

20. Supporting Manufacturing Productivity

The Made Smarter initiative, backed by Labour’s £250 million funding, will drive productivity improvements across the manufacturing sector. This support for Industrial Digital Technologies will enhance competitiveness and create jobs, positioning UK manufacturing for future success.

Labour's business pledges represent a transformative agenda that aims to create a fairer, more innovative, and sustainable business environment in the UK. By addressing critical issues such as infrastructure, finance, skills, and fair play, Labour is setting the stage for robust economic growth and prosperity. Businesses across the country will need to adapt to these changes, leveraging the support and opportunities provided to thrive in this new landscape.


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