Lib Dem manifesto: what’s in it for freelance creatives

The Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto for the May 7th general election.

The 158-page document is dividable into the following sections relevant to freelance creatives.

The main pledges with the potential to directly affect such self-employed workers are emboldened.

Lib Dem leader and Deputy PM Nick Clegg said:

· “Our mission has only just begun. You can’t build a stronger economy and a fairer society, and spread opportunity to every citizen, in five years.

· “In Government for the next five years, Liberal Democrats will continue to build a stronger economy and a fairer society with opportunity for everyone.”

· The manifesto adds: “We will continue to rebalance the tax system away from hard work and towards unearned wealth, while stamping out abusive tax avoidance”.

For the creative, cultural, media, digital and advertising sectors, the Lib Dems say they will:

· Support growth in the creative industries, including video gaming, by continuing to support the Creative Industries Council, promoting creative skills, supporting modern and flexible patent, copyright and licensing rules, and addressing the barriers to finance faced by small creative businesses.

· Complete broadband rollout to every home, and create an innovation fund to help keep local GPs, post offices and libraries open.

· Aim to double the number of businesses which hire apprentices, including by extending them to new sectors of our economy, like creative and digital industries.

· Build on the success of Tech City, Tech North and the Cambridge tech cluster with a network across the UK acting as incubators for technology companies.

· Develop cutting-edge digital skills courses for young people and the unemployed, working with private sector employers and education and training providers.

· Maintain free access to national museums and galleries, while giving these institutions greater autonomy.

· Give higher status to tourism within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

· Protect the independence of the BBC while ensuring the Licence Fee does not rise faster than inflation.

· Maintain Channel 4 in public ownership and protect the funding and editorial independence of Welsh language broadcasters.

· Restrict the marketing of junk food to children, including restricting TV advertising before the 9pm watershed.

· Encourage the traffic light labelling system for food products and publication of information on calorie, fat, sugar and salt content in restaurants/takeaways.

· Introduce a second Freedoms Act to protect free speech, stop heavy-handed policing and ban Mosquito devices that discriminate against young people.

· Introduce statutory public interest defences for exceptional cases where journalists may need to break the law (such as RIPA, the 2010 Bribery Act, and the 1998 Computer Misuse Act) to expose corruption or other criminal acts.

· Ensure judicial authorisation is required for the acquisition of communications data which might reveal journalists’ sources or other privileged communications, for any of the purposes allowed under RIPA; and allow journalists the opportunity to address the court before authorisation is granted, where this would not jeopardise the investigation.

· Undertake a post-legislative review of the 2013 Defamation Act, to ensure the new provisions are reducing the chill of libel threats.

· Introduce, after consultation on the detail, the changes to the 1998 Data Protection Act recommended by Lord Justice Leveson to provide a fairer balance between personal privacy and the requirements of journalism, ensuring that the position of investigative journalists is safeguarded.

Affecting broadband, online and the digital industry/consumers, the Lib Dems say they will:

· Complete the rollout of high-speed broadband, to reach almost every household (99.9%) in the UK as well as small businesses in both rural and urban areas.

· Double innovation spend in our economy, making the UK a world leader in advanced manufacturing, clean technology and digital industries

· Protect internet users’ privacy by updating data laws for the internet age with a Digital Bill of Rights.

· Safeguard the freedom of the internet and back net neutrality.

· Oppose the introduction of the so-called Snooper’s Charter (which requires companies to store a record of everyone’s internet activities for a year).

· Set stricter limits on surveillance and oppose the blanket collection of UK residents’ personal communications by the police or the intelligence agencies.

With implications for businesses, SMEs, employers and the workplace, the Lib Dems say they will:

· Ensure employers cannot avoid giving their staff rights or paying the minimum wage by wrongly classifying them as workers or self-employed.

· Reform “Dividend Tax relief”.

· Refocus Entrepreneurs’ Relief.

· Move to ‘name blank’ recruitment wherever possible in the public sector.

· Extend existing reporting rules to establish consistent requirements on all large UK companies to report on the social, environmental and human rights impacts of their activities and those of their supply chains.

· Create a formal right (for zero-hours contract workers) to request a fixed contract.

· Consult on introducing a right to make regular patterns of work contractual after a period of time.

· Develop a national skills strategy for key sectors, including low-carbon technologies, to help match skills and people.

· Continue to allow high-skill immigration to support key sectors of the economy.

· Encourage employers to provide more flexible working.

· Further support to medium-sized businesses through a one-stop-shop for accessing government support, a dedicated unit in HMRC and the development of management skills

· Continue to reform business tax to ensure it stays competitive, making small and medium-sized enterprises the priority for any business tax cuts.

· Promoting a new community banking sector to support small and medium-sized enterprises and social enterprise.

· Look at ways of raising the National Minimum Wage.

· Ensure London’s transport infrastructure is improved to withstand the pressure of population and economic growth.

On Tax, the Lib Dems say they will:

· Reform “Dividend Tax relief”.

· Refocus Entrepreneurs’ Relief.

· Raise the Personal Allowance to at least £12,500, and bring forward the planned increase to an £11,000 allowance to April 2016

· Consider (post-12K personal allowance) raising the employee National Insurance threshold to the Income Tax threshold.

· Protect low earners’ ability to accrue pension and benefit entitlements.

After work’ pledges in the Lib Dem manifesto include:

· Legislate to make decent (state) pensions rises each year.

· Extend free childcare to all two-year olds, and to the children of working families from the end of paid parental leave.

· Expand Shared Parental Leave with a ‘use it or lose it’ month for fathers, and introduce a right to paid leave for carers.

· Establish a review to consider the case for, and practical implications of, introducing a single rate of tax relief for pensions.

‘Pre-work’ pledges in the Lib Dem Manifesto include:

· Double the number of apprentices to be hired by enterprise.

· Give young people aged 16–21 a discount bus pass to cut the cost of travel.


17th April 2015

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