Labour 'making the most freelancer-friendly sounds'

Labour appears to have stolen the march on its rivals in its bid to secure the self-employed’s vote at the general election this Thursday.

In a statement responding to the party’s manifesto, the Federation of Small Businesses said Jeremy Corbyn had “listened” to one-man bands by vowing not to raise their National Insurance Contributions if he becomes prime minister.

Ruling out raising the levy on such “strivers” is a commitment that all other parties jostling for votes on Thursday should now do, the federation said, hoping to prompt similar, unambiguous pledges from the Tories and Liberal Democrats.

But rather than take the bait, Labour’s rivals have stayed relatively silent on supporting the self-employed, beyond the pledges made in their respective manifestos, ‘Forward, Together’ and ‘Change Britain’s Future.’

Since then, Labour has gone further. Mr Corbyn used a televised debate featuring prime minister Theresa May to say his party would support “micro-business” and other tiny traders, albeit on an issue freelancers are unaffected by -- business rates.

More relevant to such independent workers is Labour’s pledge to exempt the self-employed entirely from Making Tax Digital, and toughen the rules that let their clients get away with paying them late (or not at all).

This two-fold commitment has pleased the FSB yet so too has a commitment from Mrs May, who answered questions before Mr Corbyn in the televised debate, to ensure the Tories are a party of ‘low taxation.’

But on behalf of the self-employed, the federation wants more. “Urgent reassurance is still needed for the thousands of self-employed voters in every constituency that they will be included in the low-tax small business environment the prime minister promises,” it said.

"The 4.8 million self-employed in the UK are a highly-motivated group of voters, who will want reassurance before the election that they will not be targeted for tax hikes or treated as a cash cow."

The FSB’s appeal comes after a small business pre-election debating event saw progress not for Labour or the Tories, but for the Lib Dems.

In fact, according to the Times, a poll before the debate began put the Tories on top with 39% of the business audience’s vote, compared with 15% each for Labour and the Lib Dems

Afterwards however, Tim Farron’s party had elevated its position to first place, with a reported 38% of the vote, ahead of the Tories on 25% and Labour on 19%.

The favourable reading for Mr Farron’s prospects was put down to the persuasiveness of the Lib Dem’s representative at the debate (Lord Palmer of Childs Hill).

It was also attributed to the party’s freelancer-friendly policies, such as the creation of a new allowance for living costs for the owners of new ventures during their first few weeks getting off the ground.




5th June 2017

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