The recent UK election result, one of the most dramatic the country has seen, ends a period of uncertainty for many business owners. The majority of entrepreneurs will be broadly content with the Conservative majority election result and the relative stability this brings - a hung Parliament or a wholly different Government would have resulted in more upheaval. To a certain extent, we can predict what the political landscape will look like for the next five years having experienced a largely Conservative-led coalition for the last five.
Policies that look set to have a considerable impact on business owners include: keeping corporation tax at 20%; cutting red tape by £10 billion; trebling the Start Up Loans programme; abolishing employers' National Insurance for apprentices under 25; and ploughing funding into fast-growing businesses through Innovate UK, the British Business Bank, and the network of catapult centres. To what degree these various policies offer good value for money to the Exchequer (and ultimately taxpayers) is up for debate, but it would be churlish to suggest the new Government was unambitious in its policies to support business owners.
Another key concern for businesses is of course David Cameron's promise to hold a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union (EU) by the end of 2017. It's an accepted fact that big businesses are broadly pro-Europe, but consideration should also be given to small business owners and the entrepreneurs of Britain's fastest-growing businesses. They are, in many cases, equally uncertain as to the merits of a "Brexit" – either for their companies or for the country at large. Of course, EU regulation can be a burden for UK businesses, and many would like to see some tough negotiation by Mr Cameron to help with this. Perhaps the threat of a Brexit will give the Prime Minister the strong negotiating position we need and result in an improved trading block and resounding yes to staying in the EU come the referendum. Or perhaps it will not… If this election result has taught me one thing, it's that there are no safe bets in politics.
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Partner, Head of International Development