The Conservative Party have returned to parliament alone following last week’s general election when they gained a majority with a surprising 331 seats to Labour’s 232. The Scottish National Party (SNP) won 56 of the 59 available in Scotland, the DUP took 8 in Northern Ireland, the Liberal Democrats slipped to just 8 seats and UKIP just one.
This result, unexpected by the polls, will affect the UK’s businesses in various ways.
John Cridland, Director-General at the CBI, said:
“With the votes counted, businesses will be relieved that the clouds of uncertainty around the possibility of a hung parliament have dispersed. There will be hurdles to overcome for the new government though with a slim majority, but it must not duck the tough decisions needed to keep growth striding ahead.
“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.”
Zero hours contracts
Nathan Combes, employment lawyer at Lupton Fawcett Denison Till, feels that the Tory victory could come as a relief to employers who rely on zero hours contracts:
“The coalition government had already implemented a number of significant changes to UK employment law, with a clear majority in the Commons we can now expect the Conservatives to introduce further legislation banning the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts, however and to the relief of many businesses this will not lead to an outright ban on the use of zero hours contracts altogether.
“There will also be a move to increase the National Minimum Wage to £6.70 by the Autumn of this year and again to over £8 an hour by 2020. Additionally, the Conservatives’ manifesto commitment to cap public sector redundancy payments at a maximum of £95,000 is likely to garner widespread support although we can expect strong resistance to this particular proposal from the Trade Unions who will also be deeply resentful of the Conservatives’ plans to make it harder for their members to take industrial action.”
Commnting on the effect the election results will have on UK apprenticeships, Celia Francis, CEO at Rated People, said:
“The 3 million new apprenticeships promised in the Conservative manifesto would create great opportunities for the next generation and be welcome recognition of the role trades play in our society.
“But, they won’t come from nowhere. The government needs to take action to ensure that hiring an apprentice makes good business sense for the firms and sole traders who take them on.
“The National Insurance breaks George Osborne announced in 2014 were a good first step, but these should be made permanent and extended to cover all apprentices. In addition, existing incentive schemes should be extended to provide financial support for small businesses looking to hire more than one apprentice.
“Finally, we’d like to see support given directly to sole traders who are looking to make the first step in extending their business. It’s too confusing right now to navigate employment and tax law, meaning many tradespeople are dissuaded from bringing on an apprentice.”
Rob Crossland, founder and chief executive of umbrella recruiter Parasol, believes that the Conservatives are best placed to help drive recruitment and growth:
“While no party has a monopoly on wisdom when it comes to our sector, this result boosts the prospects for the stability, continuity and certainty craved by professional contractors and recruiters.
“From tax to regulation and employment legislation, the Conservative manifesto was the most pro-business and pro-job creation. David Cameron and George Osborne now have the mandate to implement their pledges.
“Labour’s negative rhetoric regarding the recruitment industry and umbrella companies demonstrated an alarming misunderstanding of our sector, and the arrival of Ed Miliband at 10 Downing Street would have worried many contractors.
“As one of Britain’s largest contractor employment providers, we look forward to engaging in a positive and constructive dialogue with the new Tory administration – for example on travel and subsistence tax relief reforms.
Title image courtesy of Chatham House via Wikimedia Commons