Not many people expected a Conservative majority, but now it's here, we asked a selection of business leaders to give their thoughts on what happens next.
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The small and medium-sized business vote hasn't been central to the debate in 2015's election campaign, but it will be important in years to come because of its influence on economic growth and employment - something the Tory government holds dear. Here's a selection of views on what should happen between now and 2020.
Stability and continuity is always good for business. The threat of a hung parliament led to a feeling of uncertainty which we should now see subside.
The electorate have placed their faith in the Conservative’s long-term economic plan and hopefully the economic growth we have seen in previous quarters will continue.
As an SME based in the north of England, I am confident that the Northern Powerhouse, Osbourne continues to champion, will result in great benefits for us in the North resulting in more jobs, improved infrastructure and economic growth.
The coalition has created a good environment for small businesses over the last five years, but there's more the next government can do. I stand by my three asks for small business:
1) Help young people enter the workforce by actively promoting the alternatives to university and apprenticeships, and helping them to be ‘office ready'. This can be done by strengthening the links between education and employers.
2) More funding and incentives for growing businesses, not just start-ups, such as National Insurance holidays and government loans
3) A larger network of talented and experienced experts to help advise small businesses who want help to grow. That's why I'm challenging the Tories to deliver my small business manifesto.
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We conducted a survey on the eve of the election showing that the majority of small business owners favoured a Conservative government, so it certainly seems the business community have made their voices heard.
While the Conservatives have been quite strong on overall business policies, their support for one-man-band businesses has been less than stellar. Hopefully Cameron will give something back to those who helped re-elect him and introduce some meaningful support for freelancers and contractors.
As a result of the Conservatives being re-elected, David Cameron pledges to extend further support to SMEs. This includes cutting red tape by £10bn during the next parliament which will help businesses with low head count to navigate bureaucratic processes.
The employment allowance, a levy on National Insurance contributions will remain however it’s unclear when, if ever this is extended to all domestic employers.
A Conservative majority has given new life to small businesses. Ahead of the election there were concerns that the enterprise friendly culture, which the coalition government has worked so hard to nourish, could be swept away overnight.
Today’s result will be a welcome relief for business owners, ensuring that policies such as entrepreneur’s relief and the current £10m lifetime gain tax are kept intact – policies which would have been under threat if Labour had come to power.
The previous government made impressive steps in establishing incentives around the entrepreneur’s investment scheme but there is still more to be done, especially around developing apprenticeships and SEIS schemes.
Although business confidence today is high, a Conservative government will likely lead to a referendum on the EU and we should be mindful of the impact a Brexit could have on UK SMEs, especially in terms of trade and recruiting a skilled workforce.
The Prime Minister must create a pro-enterprise environment, by getting the deficit down, continuing to make the UK one of the most competitive tax environments in the G20, especially for medium-sized businesses, and backing the decision of the Airports Commission.
With an EU referendum now likely, business will now want to see an ambitious, achievable reform agenda that will make both the UK and Europe more competitive and prosperous for all. The majority of businesses want to stay in a reformed European Union which opens up the world’s largest market of 500 million consumers.
There have been some major changes in Scotland and now businesses will be looking for reassurance that the devolution proposals agreed by all parties in the draft Scotland Bill will be in the Queen’s Speech