Tory manifesto: what’s in it for freelance creatives
The Conservatives have launched their manifesto for the May 7th general election.
The 84-page document is dividable into the following sections relevant to creative freelancers.
The main pledges with the potential to directly affect such self-employed workers are emboldened.
Conservative party leader and PM David Cameron said:
· “Britain is back on its feet, strong and growing stronger every day. This has not happened by accident. It is the result of difficult decisions and of patiently working through our long-term economic plan.”
· “This manifesto …is a plan for a better future – for you, for your family. It is a plan for every stage of your life.”
· The manifesto adds: “Government is the servant of the British people, not their master. That simple fact was forgotten when Labour was in power. Quangos grew in number, wasteful projects proliferated and the bureaucracy swelled – symptoms of a Government that believed it always knew best.”
For the creative industries, the Conservatives say they will:
· Continue to offer tax reliefs to the creative industries, and “expand them when possible.”
· Take steps to improve broadband coverage (see separate section)
· Extend the existing package of creative industries tax reliefs to children’s TV programmes.
· Protect intellectual property by continuing to require ISPs to block sites that carry large amounts of illegal content, including their proxies
· Help public libraries to support local communities by providing free Wi-Fi.
· Assist public libraries in embracing the digital age by working with them to ensure remote access to e-books, without charge and with appropriate compensation for authors that enhances the Public Lending Right scheme.
· Offer explicit protection for the role of journalists via the British Bill of Rights.
· Ban the police from accessing journalists’ phone records to identify whistle-blowers and other sources without prior judicial approval.
· Keep frozen the BBC licence fee, and also keep entrance to major national museums and galleries free of charge
For businesses, including freelancers and the self-employed, the Conservatives say they will:
· Establish a new Small Business Conciliation service to mediate in disputes, especially over late payment.
· Strengthen the Prompt Payment Code and ensure that all major government suppliers sign up.
· End the ability of EU jobseekers to claim any job-seeking benefits and if jobseekers have not found a job within six months, require them to leave.
· Repeal restrictions banning employers from hiring agency staff to provide essential cover during strikes.
· Improve support for investment into start-ups and roll-out our innovative Help to Grow scheme, which will plug a £1billion finance gap for firms that are looking to expand, invest and hire.
· Treble the Start Up Loans programme during the next Parliament so that it can support up to 75,000 entrepreneurs.
· Cut £10 billion of red tape.
· Require employers regularly utilising the Shortage Occupation List, under which they can bring skilled foreign workers into the UK, to provide long-term plans for training British workers.
· Cap the level of skilled economic migration from outside the EU at the current threshold of 20,700.
· Introduce tougher labour market regulation to tackle illegal working and exploitation. For example, take further steps to eradicate abuses of workers, such as non-payment of the Minimum Wage, exclusivity in zero-hours contracts and exploitation of migrant workers.
With implications for broadband, mobile connectivity and digital, the Tories say they will:
· Secure the delivery of superfast broadband in urban and rural areas to provide coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by the end of 2017.
· Release more spectrum from public sector use to allow greater private sector access.
· Ensure the UK plays a key role in defining industry standards for 5G connectivity.
· Hold the mobile operators to their new legally binding agreement to ensure that 90 per cent of the UK landmass will have voice and SMS coverage by 2017.
· Provide rural Britain with near universal superfast broadband by the end of the next Parliament and secure the future of 3,000 rural Post Offices.
· Set an ambition that ultrafast broadband should be available to nearly all UK premises as soon as practicable.
· Ensure no one is left behind by subsidising the cost of installing superfast capable satellite services in the very hardest to reach areas.
· Continue to invest in mobile infrastructure to deliver coverage for voice calls and text messages for the final 0.3 – 0.4 per cent of UK premises that do not currently have it.
On Tax, the Tories say they will:
· Not raise VAT, National Insurance contributions or Income Tax.
· Increase the 40p Income Tax threshold to £50,000.
· Raise the effective Inheritance Tax threshold for married couples and civil partners to £1 million.
· Take everyone earning less than £12,500 out of Income Tax.
· Introduce a Tax-Free Minimum Wage.
· Raise £5bn from anti-evasion measures and measures to tackle “aggressive” avoidance.
‘After-work’ pledges in the Tory manifesto include:
· Give families where all parents are working an entitlement to 30 hours of free childcare for their three and four year-olds
· Continue to increase the Basic State Pension by at least 2.5 per cent (but cut pension tax relief for those earning over £150,000)
· Cap the cost of residential care.
· Help new and existing challenger banks to inject fresh competition into the market for personal current accounts, mortgages and business loans, including through the British Business Bank.
‘Pre-work’ pledges in the Tory manifesto include:
· Ensure there is a University Technical College “within reach” of every city.
· Devolve further powers over skills spending and planning to the Mayor of London.
· Deliver three million more apprentices.· Replace the Jobseeker’s Allowance for 18-21 year-olds with a Youth Allowance that will be time-limited to six months, after which young people will have to take an apprenticeship, a traineeship or do daily community work for their benefits.
With implications for the public sector and government, the Tories say they will:
· Move more government services online, while tackling digital exclusion.
· Ensure digital assistance is always available for those who are not online.