ENTREPRENEURIAL SPARK CALLS ON ALL PARTIES TO SUPPORT START-UPS

Politicians challenged to sign entrepreneurship pledge ahead of election that guarantees they ‘walk the walk’ if they win

Leading business accelerator programme Entrepreneurial Spark is challenging candidates across all political parties to support Britain’s entrepreneurs and sign up to a pledge card that will ensure pre-election talk turns into effective action to bolster the building blocks of the economy this summer.

The start-up support specialist – which is already the world’s largest free business accelerator for early stage and growing ventures and is expanding into more UK cities this year – wants all the main parties to commit to five concrete measures that together would provide a huge boost to entrepreneurship and ultimately Britain’s economy.

Entrepreneurial Spark says young businesses across the country want to see:

  • A Minister for Entrepreneurs to represent their views in Cabinet, independently of the department representing big business.
  • A significant rise in the threshold at which businesses must register for VAT, from £82,000 currently to at least £100,000.
  • Further tax and NI breaks for start-ups that take on staff in their first three years.
  • Free business space and support for all start-ups.
  • Tax breaks for larger corporations that support entrepreneurs.

Jim Duffy, CEO, Entrepreneurial Spark
Jim Duffy, CEO, Entrepreneurial Spark

It follows scrutiny of the pre-election promises of the UK’s main political parties which shows that, despite plenty of talk, there are few propositions on offer with the potential to give entrepreneurship in Britain a real boost.

Entrepreneurial Spark chief executive Jim Duffy said: “In the lead up to the General Election politicians from all parties have been keen to talk up their backing for entrepreneurs and small businesses, which they rightly recognise as the growth engine of the economy.

“These are the people creating the wealth and jobs that can pull Britain away from recovery and austerity, into a new phase of sustained growth. But that will only happen if entrepreneurship and ambition is supported, and that is why we are calling on politicians of all parties to embrace our challenge and sign up to our policies for entrepreneurial growth.

“These five measures are relatively cheap and would pay for themselves many times over through the growth they would create. But they would send a message to entrepreneurs throughout the world that Britain means business and is supporting its start-ups by cutting red tape, providing funding options and help to grow, and giving them a voice at the heart of government.”

HOW THE PARTIES CURRENTLY STACK UP ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Conservative

Says “the proposal to create a specific minister for entrepreneurs will be considered by the Prime Minister.”

“Conservatives are enthusiastic about lowering the tax and regulatory burden on small businesses. This is why VAT threshold has risen from £68,000 to £82,000 over our last five years in Government.”

 Aims to provide support and advice across the country for business start-ups, as well as finance through the Start-up Loan scheme and targeted support through schemes like UK Trade and Investment’s guidance for small exporters.

Says its 2015 manifesto “will contain measures to build upon the successes of the last five years: 760,000 new businesses, the creation of the Start-up Loan scheme benefiting 27,000 entrepreneurs with over £140 million in loans and the Great Business campaign, publicising the wide range of information and support available from the Government.”

Green

Says Cabinet Minister for Entrepreneurs should not be necessary. “There is more than enough representation for entrepreneurship but the emphasis certainly needs to change to supporting small businesses rather than large corporations.”

Wants to see VAT replaced with “more appropriate taxes” based on how much environmental damage a product causes.

Would bring in free business start-up support. It says: “We would like to see this done at the lowest level possible so probably by Local Authority run Enterprise Centres or something similar. There is more than enough money sloshing around in Local Enterprise Partnership budgets that could be passed down to Local Authorities for this.”

Wants to see preferential rates of corporation tax for smaller businesses, and make it easier for small businesses to employ people and pay a higher Minimum Wage based on the Living Wage by reducing Employers’ NI.

Labour *

Would “tackle rising business costs” by maintaining the corporation tax rate, cutting and then freezing business rates for more than 1.5 million small business properties and freezing their energy bills.

Says it would “make it easier for firms to get the finance they need to grow and create jobs, by establishing a British Investment Bank with a mission to lend money to small- and medium-sized businesses and support a network of regional banks.”

Would increase the National Minimum Wage to more than £8 an hour by October 2019, but would also promote the Living Wage by giving a tax rebate to companies that sign up to become Living Wage employers in the first year of the next Parliament.

*Taken from the Labour Party manifesto as Labour did not respond to questions from Entrepreneurial Spark.

Liberal Democrats

Says Vince Cable’s role as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has “ensured that entrepreneurs have a voice at the highest level of government”.

It says: “We recognise that entrepreneurs are integral to driving the economy and so we have made sure that we have reduced the regulatory and tax burden by cutting swathes of red tape and providing billions of pounds of Business Rate Relief for small businesses.”

Would continue to reform business tax “to ensure it stays competitive”, prioritising tax cuts for SME’s.

Would freeze fuel duty for another year and extend the Funding for Lending Scheme, working with the Bank of England, “to reduce the cost of lending across the system to SME’s and continue to give local leaders the freedom and control they need to shape their economic future through our City Deals and Local Growth Deals”.

Plaid Cymru

Would consider introducing a Cabinet Minister for Entrepreneurs, and says it is “fully committed to helping start-up companies”.

It says: “What Plaid Cymru would do is extend the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme in Wales to help all businesses with a Rateable Value of £15,000 or less – 83,000 businesses would benefit and more than 70,000 would be taken out of business rates altogether.”

Would create a Welsh Development Bank whose primary role would be to ensure adequate credit lines for Welsh businesses and support expansion to create additional jobs within Wales.

Would give more Welsh public sector contracts to companies working in Wales.

SNP *

Will seek to ensure small businesses are paid on time by pushing for prompt payment measures to be put into law.

Would Support a Universal Services Obligation for broadband and telecoms providers to ensure equal access to communications for people across the UK, and seek additional investment to support a more rapid roll out of superfast broadband and 4G across Scotland.

Says it will “make the case for a targeted approach to business taxation, with targeted changes in tax allowances.”

Would continue the Small Business Bonus, a graded system of rates relief currently benefitting 96,265 businesses in Scotland.

*Taken from the SNP manifesto as SNP did not respond to questions from Entrepreneurial Spark.

UKIP

Says Government as a whole should be aware of entrepreneurs of all sizes: “talent is individual and we should be encouraging entrepreneurs and small businesses but one person – a Cabinet Minister – is too limited.”

Would definitely not raise the VAT threshold.

“Yes in principle” to free business start-up support, but would want budding businesses to “tick all the boxes to ensure they had a solid business plan.”

Would “cut business rates, extend free parking in town centres, encourage specialist forms of banking to help entrepreneurs, stop scandal of late payments, cut green taxes to help with energy bills, strengthen attack on Brussels to stop over-regulation and red tape, conduct skills review in education and push forward broadband for rural businesses”.

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