General Election Blog

With the General Election campaign heating up, we’ll be using this page to provide the FLA’s daily briefing on the latest developments, including manifesto launches and intel on what those policy positions mean for our markets.

 

UK Election - 1 day to go...

3 July 2024

no10

General Election: What Happens Next?

 George Anastasi, Senior Policy Manager

 After all the feverish build up of a long campaign winning the public vote is just the first step. Then the hard work begins. In this blog I explain what happens for a new government in the hours, days and months after an election win. 

On Friday 5 July, assuming a clear outcome, the new Prime Minister will head to Buckingham Palace where they will be asked by King Charles to form a Government. Next, the customary speech outside the doors of No. 10 will be delivered, after allowing appropriate time for the previous occupant to move out, if there’s a change of PM.

On 9 July the new Parliament will meet for the first time. A Commons Speaker will be elected, and MPs and peers will be sworn in over the following days. 

If, as is widely predicted, there are major changes in the make-up of the House of Commons, this will for many MPs be their first day at work in a new job. Those with no previous experience will face the daunting task of getting up to speed with the many arcane rules and customs of the UK’s Parliament so will be desperately thumbing through their copy of Erskine May, the guide to Parliamentary Procedure. The following week sees the publication of the King’s Speech setting out the new Government’s programme, which is the point at which we hope some of the ideas set out the FLA manifesto see the light of day. We shall address this in a future blog.

 

 

UK Election - 3 days to go...

1 July 2024

polls

One Last Look at the Polls

Simon Goldie, Director of Advocacy

Just three days to go now before the British public get the chance to cast their votes. At this point, all the polling companies are predicting a Labour win, but they differ on what that victory will look like. 

James Kanagasooriam, at UK Polling Report, provides an excellent analysis of why the companies using MRP (a method that looks at national samples of party support to estimate what that will look like for parties or MPs at a local level come up with different outcomes. 

You can read the full piece here

In summary, Kanasgasooriam says there are six reasons for this: 

  • The pollsters don’t know how the Conservatives share of the vote will be distributed across the country.
  • There is always a margin of error in polls. The Conservative vote share sits between 20-25%. The question is what the percentage will be, and how does that translate into seats.
  • MRP data can range from days to weeks. When is the data captured and interpreted can skew the predicted result.
  • How do the pollsters collect the data: telephone, online or face-to-face. This can impact the results.
  • What are the assumptions being used for turnout?
  • Other assumptions that are fed into the model might turn out to be wrong.

As in my previous post on this, it is important to remember a poll is a snapshot of views at the time the poll was taken. 

If the Conservatives do better than expected, then pollsters will have to go back to their modelling assumptions and think again. 

 

UK Election - 6 days to go...

28 June 2024

office

Understanding the parties: Liberal Democrats

 Simon Goldie, Director of Advocacy

Like my other two posts on Labour and the Conservatives, we are going to look at what makes the Lib Dems tick. 

They began life on 3 March 1988 as the Social & Liberal Democrats. Despite being the ‘new kid on the block, this party had deep political roots.

The Liberal party was formed in 1859 as a coalition of Whigs, Peelites and Radicals, and dominated British politics until 1911. There was broad support for free markets, free trade, and limited interference in the economy. But the growth of the Labour movement and the rise of socialist ideas began to influence liberal thinking, with many joining David Lloyd George’s daughter in the Labour Party.  

By the 1950s, Jo Grimond was in charge of the Liberals and set out a civic liberalism programme that had more in common with the co-ops and mutual societies of the 19th century Labour movement. The party became suspicious of concentrations of power, wherever it lay: government, business, or trade unions. If Labour was for the workers and the Tories were for business, the Liberals were for the individual. 

At the start of 1981, Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, David Owen, and Bill Rogers split from Labour to set up the Social Democratic party with its pro stance on the European Economic Community (as it was then), multilateral disarmament, supported for public services and a free social market that would serve society. 

The SDP and Liberals operated a political and electoral alliance, and then the two parties merged in 1988 to form the Social and Liberal Democrats, latterly called the Liberal Democrats.  

Over the next few decades party leaders have attempted to incorporate both traditions. There have been attempts to pull it one way or another such as the ‘Orange Book’ thinkers but under the leadership of Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy it became a centrist party: keen on a regulated market and strong public services. 

For now, it appears to have reconciled itself. However, if we have a large Labour party majority, a weakened Conservative party, it may reposition itself. It could then look back to its rich and diverse history and redefine its liberalism once more. 

 

 

UK Election - 7 days to go...

27 June 2024

westminster

Understanding the parties: Conservatives

 Simon Goldie, Director of Advocacy

In this post, we’re going to look at what makes up the Conservative party coalition – and as noted yesterday – this is a general description which doesn’t cover all strands of Conservatism. 

The first Conservative Government was an alliance of Whigs and Tories led by Sir Robert Peel. The Whigs were the party of limited government and liberty, and the Tories were the party of tradition and monarchy. They were landed aristocracy whose sense of ‘nobless oblige’ urged them to take paternalistic view of governing the country in the belief that they had a duty to look after those less well off. 

Over the party’s history, the emphasis has shifted between championing free trade to advocating protectionism. This has caused internal arguments, splits, and a change of focus. That said, the party has never been ideological. Its belief in ensuring stability to allow change to occur without harm (a concept developed by Edmund Burke) has meant it has become the greatest electoral machine across Western Liberal Democracies. 

In the 19th century the party faced what seemed like an equally immovable electoral force: the Liberal party led by William Gladstone. The Liberals were an alliance of the Whigs who didn’t sign up to conservatism and Radicals. To counter Gladstone, Benjamin Disraeli repositioned the Conservatives as the party of One Nation that would support commerce but intervene and enact reforms in contrast to the free market, free trading Liberals.  

One Nation Tories are now seen as being on the left of the Conservative party. Their sway over the party lasted for decades until the eruption of the Thatcherite revolution. Margaret Thatcher’s economic policies had more in common with Gladstonian liberalism although she would have rejected the description of liberal. Her belief in tradition, Queen & Country and so on, put her firmly in the Tory camp.  

Now the party appears to be a coalition of three strands: One Nation Conservatives, Social Conservatives and Gladstonian liberals. Examples of each strand are respectively, Jeremy Hunt, Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch. 

If the Conservatives enter opposition, as predicted by the polls, these three groupings will battle it out for control of the party. 

The challenge for whoever takes over is how to hold that coalition together and return the party to the electoral juggernaut it once was. 

 

UK Election - 8 days to go...

26 June 2024

in office

Understanding the parties: Labour

Simon Goldie, Director of Advocacy

In this post, we are going to look at what makes up the Labour party coalition. A note of caution though - this is a general description and doesn’t cover all strands in the Labour party. 

The first-past-the-post electoral system used in Britain makes it difficult for smaller political parties to break through and gain a significant number of seats, leading to two main parties comprising a broad church of views.  

The party grew out of the 19th century Labour movement, consisting of trade unions, co-operatives, mutual assistance organisations and the Churches. As Harold Wilson said, the Labour party owes more to Methodism than Marxism. 

That movement took time to coalesce into a political party, formed in 1900 by Keir Hardie and others to give working people a voice in parliament. Party members also included socialists and one of the biggest influences on party policy were the Fabians, who advocated an evolutionary socialist platform. This alliance made sense but there were tensions which we can still see today. Labourism aims for better conditions for working people in a capitalist economy, while socialism wants a radical transformation of how we run society, economics, and politics. 

But not all socialists were aiming for such a transformation. Some began describing themselves as social democrats – a term which became popular during the 20th century in centre-left parties in Europe. Recently, Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor, described herself as a social democrat, while Sir Keir Starmer said he was a socialist. 

Today, we associate social democracy with a commitment to redistribute wealth through the tax and benefit system, and to use regulation for the good of the consumer. Socialism is seen as wanting to go further, initiating more change, and intervening more in the economy. But not all self-proclaimed socialists will mean that. So, these terms don’t always explain someone’s position.  

What Labour party members all agree on is that there should be change that helps people. The difference in its coalition is how far you go and how you achieve that change.

 

UK Election - 9 days to go...

25 June 2024

speaker

Candidate Profiles

Edward Simpson
Director of Government Affairs & Stakeholder Engagement

The 2024 Parliament promises to look very different to the outgoing one. 

132 MPs announced that they would stand down before the election was called, representing 20% of the Chamber. The majority of these (75) are Conservatives but even if the Tories manage to secure 130 seats (down from their 2019 in-take of 365), then that still represents a further 20%-25% loss across the House. 

This makes it particularly important to engage with new MPs on the FLA’s key policy priorities in a way which ties in with the experience and interests of the newly-elected Members. Sifting through the candidates, notably those who stand a chance of winning a seat, we have identified several categories: 

  • Former MPs likely to return, which include Lib Dem Andrew George and Labour’s Nick Dakin (both with an interest in credit); Labour’s Emma Reynolds, latterly at The CityUK;  plus two Labour Party Alexanders, Douglas and Heidi, the former having served in Cabinet.
  • Those who have advised the Government or their political party or worked for think tanks such as Torsten Bell, a well-known media commentator in his guise as CEO of the Resolution Foundation; Miatta Fahnbullah, who headed up the New Economic Foundation a left-leaning think tank; and Kirsty McNeil, a special adviser to Gordon Brown when PM who currently serves on the Labour Climate and Environment Forum, making her an important ally on promoting green finance.
  • On the blue side, Rupert Harrison served as Chief of Staff to George Osborne when Chancellor, and Nick Timothy, who worked for Theresa May in No. 10, though both may miss out if the more pessimistic forecasts come to fruition.
  • First-time Labour MPs whom the FLA will be keen to engage include Chris Curtis (a former pollster), who has made the case for increasing corporation tax on larger businesses, Kanishka Narayan, who has written for the Centre for Cities think-tank on the issues of household debt, financial vulnerability and debt; and Lucy Rigby, a lawyer specialised in collective redress.  

As ever, our focus will be on relevant Ministers, as well as members of the key select committees, notably the Treasury Committee and the cross-party groups, known as APPGs.

 

UK Election - 10 days to go...

24 June 2024

skylineRound-up of the manifestos

Edward Simpson
Director of Government Affairs & Stakeholder Engagement

A fortnight on from the launch of the first general election manifesto of this campaign, it’s worth recapping the key policy positions of the largest three parties through the prism of member priorities.   

Tax is at the forefront of the campaign and whilst the Conservatives and Labour do their best not to unsettle voters and business, the Lib Dems pledge to “restore the Bank Surcharge and Bank Levy revenues to 2016 levels in real terms.” They also want to place a 4% tax on the share buyback schemes of FTSE-100 listed companies. Both main parties will hold corporation tax at 25% for the duration of the next Parliament. Similarly – line with FLA campaigning – they both commit to full expensing with the Conservatives reiterating that they shall extend it to leased assets when fiscal conditions allow. Labour will publish a roadmap for business taxation over its term of government, which is again something we have advocated. 

There is broad support to extend the British Business Bank’s remit, and for the creation of a local and regional banking network. Open Finance features in the Conservative and Labour manifestos and the latter will create a Regulatory Innovation Office to improve Government delivery. The Tories state that Basel rules should not inhibit funding to SMEs, in line with FLA lobbying. 

Labour and the Lib Dems are wedded to the idea of an industrial strategy with the latter suggesting putting the Industrial Strategy Council on a statutory footing. There is a green tinge underpinning both parties’ approach, including Labour’s plans for Great British Energy.  

Under Labour’s proposals, the UK will become the green finance capital of the world. The Lib Dems would appoint a Chief Secretary for Sustainability in the Treasury and establish a new Net Zero Delivery Authority to coordinate action across central and devolved government. The Conservatives’ focus is on lowering green levies on households and opposing road pricing. They would invest £1.1 billion into the Green Industries Growth Accelerator to support British manufacturing capabilities.  

Both Conservatives and Labour are committing to improving energy efficiency in homes to the tune of £6bn, with the former offering vouchers whilst the latter favours low interest loans and grants. The Lib Dems put the onus on landlords to upgrade their properties and recommends free insulation and heat pumps for low income households.  

In terms of accelerating the roll-out of electric vehicles, the Lib Dems plan to invest in public charging, reinstate the plug-in grant and cut the VAT rate to 5%. They, like Labour, will restore the 2030 phase out date for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. Labour will also focus on improving public charging and introducing standard information on the condition of batteries to benefit those buying used EVs. To aid the transition, they promise £1.5bn for the development of gigafactories. The Conservatives will continue to investment in the charging infrastructure albeit ahead of a 2035 deadline for the ZEV mandate. 

It will be interesting to see how much of the new Government’s plans see the light of day.  

 

UK Election - 13 days to go...

21 June 2024

Larry the Cat

The Keys to No. 10 

Simon Goldie, Director of Advocacy

Whenever there is a general election, commentators always ask, "Who will get the keys to No.10?".  

A tiny Friday factoid is that the only keys they’ll be given are those to the flat because the front door to No10 has no keyhole.  

A policeman or security guard lets you in. 

As a guest, you’re asked to put your mobile devices in a cubbyhole and directed to a waiting area. 

The first time I visited, I was struck by how ordinary the house is. There is none of the grandeur of the White House, or Elysee Palace. Its modesty and understatement reflect British sentiment about power.

 Feline sentiment about power is entirely different, and Larry the Cat showed us who was boss. 

 

UK Election - 14 days to go...

20 June 2024

redA Return to Coalition

 Simon Goldie, Director of Advocacy

Speculation is a fool's game. It is also fun. 

According to the polls, and many commentators, the general election is a done deal. Sir Keir Starmer will be Prime Minister as the Labour party get a resounding majority. The big question being asked is how badly will the Conservatives do? 

A recent Savanta poll is predicting that the Tories will end up with just over 50 MPs, and a similar number for the Liberal Democrats. 

If this turns out to be correct, and that is a very big if, will the parties have to share opposition roles given that neither will have enough MPs to fulfil the constitutional roles required? In the Savanta scenario, many Tory leadership contenders will have lost their seats, and this could open the way for Kemi Badenoch becoming leader. 

Badenoch has described herself as a liberal. That term is elastic but from her past speeches and involvement with a range of issues, it would appear to me she is pro free market, trade, and speech. Over time, the Liberal Democrats as half the official Opposition may find that they move away from some of their centre-left positions. 

Could Badenoch become the de facto leader of an opposition coalition with the Liberal Democrats returning to their Gladstonian roots? 

If any of this happens, remember you read it here first. If not, enjoy it as a piece of whimsy.

 

UK Election - 15 days to go...

19 June 2024

sky

 SNP

Edward Simpson
Director of Government Affairs & Stakeholder Engagement

In its manifesto A Future Made in Scotland published today, the Scottish National Party promises to: 

  • deliver independence;

  • rejoin the EU;

  • and “reverse the £1.3bn Westminster cut to our capital budget, to enable us to invest in new hospitals, schools, rail and road infrastructure and help to achieve net zero.” 

The SNP claims to have the “most progressive income tax system in the UK”. They will therefore “demand the full devolution of tax powers”, including National Insurance and the ability to impose windfall taxation on companies operating in Scotland. It would also enable road tax and fuel duty to be set North of the Border.  

An independent Scotland would introduce three new fiscal rules to enable increased capital investment while instilling a “new prudent approach” to government finances:  

  • Public Sector Net Worth rule – recognising the value of investing in infrastructure and public sector assets, rather than just liabilities.
  • Upper limit on debt servicing costs – to allow explicit consideration of the sustainability of the stock of debt.
  • Three–year detailed spending plans – to support detailed planning and improve clarity for devolved administrations.  

The SNP propose an “essentials guarantee” so households can afford “basic necessities” such as food and utilities which sounds akin to a universal basic income.  

According to the manifesto, the UK Government must invest at least £28bn a year in the green economy (which was Labour’s original intention) to boost public and private investment in net zero and major investment in the domestic supply chain. The SNP advocate the UK Government to seek an equity stake in future energy projects such that it will “directly benefit the Scottish people by protecting jobs, growing the green economy and lowering energy bills.”  

SNP MPs will call for the UK Government to:  

  • Promote a fair and affordable transition to zero-emission transport fuels and ban the import and sale of new, non zero-emission buses by 2025.
  • Strengthen incentives to purchase cleaner vehicles. “Following the example of France, the UK Government should establish a new Low Income EV Car Leasing Fund, backed up by at least £500m, to enable 50,000 EV leases a year to benefit low income families.”  

The SNP would also extend the vote to 16 year olds.

 

UK Election - 16 days to go...

18 June 2024

pollUnderstanding the polls

Simon Goldie, Director of Advocacy

Regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum, commentators generally agree that Sir Keir Starmer will be the next Prime Minister. It’s a view based on public opinion polls, which have given the Labour party a consistent 20-point lead over the Conservative party. 

Opinion polls are many and varied in type – some are produced by specialist market research agencies, and others are private polls produced by political parties from canvas data collected while campaigning.

But no matter who the pollster is, they want to be right, and at worst they want to avoid being spectacularly wrong. So, they have devised different ways to interpret the data to make sure that they don’t miss the ‘shy Tories’, voters too embarrassed to admit they were voting Conservative or seat projections that are based on votes stacking in some constituencies and not others.  

James Kanagasooriam, Chief Research Officer at Focal Data has written an excellent analysis of how the different methodologies work. You can read it here.

 Kanagasooriam explains, “Gone are the days of traditional one-dimensional polls; today polling takes place in three dimensions. Here’s the family tree: 

  • “Traditional voting intention – the grandparent, or elder statesman of polling concepts. Tried and tested but may increasingly struggle to understand the modern world.
  • “Multilevel regression with post-stratification polls (MRPs) – the new kid on the block. An exciting concept with lofty ambitions, making use of technological advances, but like an excited toddler, comes with teething problems.
  • “Seat projections – a step-sibling of MRPs, but bearing an increasingly-tenuous relationship to traditional VI polls.”

 MRP is seen as the more reliable method because of the work done to address the issues mentioned previously.

 When looking at the polls it is important to remember:  

  • It’s a snapshot of views at a point in time. People change their mind.
  • A poll of polls will include outliers – this means that the poll giving one party a significant lead will distort the end number.
  • Pollsters work hard to get it right – but voters are unpredictable.  

It is a cliché but, in the end, the only poll that counts is the one on 4 July.

 

UK Election - 17 days to go...

17 June 2024

Whitehall

Reform UK

Edward Simpson
Director of Government Affairs & Stakeholder Engagement

Reform has today published Our Contract with You which is a draft document setting out its offering ahead of the General Election. Over the first 100 days they want the Bank of England to desist from paying interest to commercial banks on QE reserves; and scrap “unnecessary” Quangos and ‘unnecessary’ regulations. 

Reform pledge to lift the minimum profit threshold for corporation tax to £100,000 and cut the rate by 15% by the end of the next Parliament. To support small business, the VAT threshold would rise to £120,000. Business rates for SMEs would be replaced by a 4% online retailer tax applied to “large, multinational businesses”. The tax system would be simplified and the planning system reformed. 

The ‘contract’ calls for an end to non-essential immigration and to scrap Net Zero related subsidies. 

As part of Reform’s commitment to “end the war on motorists”, it would legislate to ban all ULEZ and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Furthermore, it would scrap bans on selling petrol and diesel cars and scrap legal requirements for manufacturers to sell electric cars.

 

 

UK Election - 21 days to go...

13 June 2024

white boxLabour

Edward Simpson
Director of Government Affairs & Stakeholder Engagement

The Labour Party has today launched its Change manifesto, promising to deliver economic stability and growth, and to make Britain a clean energy superpower. 

Economic policy 

Labour’s economic policy will be characterised by tight fiscal policy and no increases in National Insurance; the basic, higher, or additional rates of Income Tax; nor VAT. They promise to modernise HMRC and change the law to tackle tax avoidance – large business will be a key target. 

Economic policy shall be boosted via:

  • Delivery of economic stability with tough spending rules
  • A new partnership with business to boost growth everywhere
  • A National Wealth Fund to invest in jobs
  • Planning reform to build 1.5 million new homes
  • Devolution of power across England
  • A New Deal for Working People

Industrial policy 

Labour’s industrial strategy will be mission-driven and conducted via a sectoral approach, including advanced manufacturing. An Industrial Strategy Council will be put on a statutory footing to provide “expert advice.” The strategy will be supported by “a pro-business environment, with a competition and regulatory framework, that supports innovation, investment, and high-quality jobs.” AI is cited as a key sector for development. 

A £7.3 billion National Wealth Fund will seek to attract £3 of private investment for every £1 of public outlay. £1.5 billion will be allocated to build gigafactories which will benefit the automotive industry. £500 million will support the manufacturing of green hydrogen.

Business Taxation/Investment 

A Labour Government will publish a roadmap for business taxation for the next Parliament to provide certainty for businesses, something the FLA has called for. Corporation tax will be capped at the current level of 25 per cent for the entire parliament. In line with FLA campaigning, Labour will retain a permanent full expensing system for capital investment [There was no reference to the inclusion of leasing, however we have discussed this proposal with Shadow Ministers prior to the election] and the annual investment allowance for small business. Firms will be provided with greater clarity on what qualifies for allowances to improve business investment decisions. 

Reform of the British Business Bank, including a stronger mandate to support growth in the regions and nations, will, according to the document, make it easier for small and medium sized enterprises to access capital. 

A ten-year infrastructure plan will guide investment decisions, including better connectivity with the North of England. 

Labour will reform the points-based immigration system so that it is fair and properly managed, with appropriate restrictions on visas, and by linking immigration and skills policy. 

Automotive 

As set out in its automotive sector plan, Labour will support the transition to electric vehicles by accelerating the roll out of charge points, giving certainty to manufacturers by restoring the phase-out date of 2030 for new cars with internal combustion engines, and supporting buyers of second-hand electric cars by standardising the information supplied on the condition of batteries. 

Energy/Net Zero policy 

At the heart of Labour’s energy policy, is the establishment of Great British Energy and warmer homes to “slash fuel poverty”. Great British Energy will partner with industry and trade unions to deliver clean power by co-investing in leading technologies; will help support capital-intensive projects; and will deploy local energy production to benefit communities across the country. To support this, Labour will capitalise Great British Energy with £8.3 billion, over the next parliament. 

The Warm Homes Plan will offer grants and low interest loans to support investment in insulation and other improvements such as solar panels, batteries and low carbon heating to cut bills. They will partner with combined authorities, local and devolved governments, to roll out this plan. Labour will also work with the private sector, including banks and building societies, to provide further private finance to accelerate home upgrades and low carbon heating. They pledge to ensure homes in the private rented sector meet minimum energy efficiency standards by 2030, saving renters hundreds of pounds per year. Nobody will be forced to rip out their boiler as a result of their plans. 

To deliver its clean power mission, Labour will work with the private sector to double onshore wind, triple solar power, and quadruple offshore wind by 2030. They plan to invest in carbon capture and storage, hydrogen and marine energy, and ensure long-term energy storage capacity. A new Energy Independence Act will establish the framework for Labour’s energy and climate policies. 

Financial services will be an important part of the delivery. “Britain’s world-leading financial services industry has a major role to play in mobilising trillions of pounds in private capital to address the greatest long-term challenge of our age. Labour will make the UK the  green finance capital of the world, mandating UK-regulated financial institutions – including banks, asset managers, pension funds, and insurers – and FTSE 100 companies to develop and implement credible transition plans that align with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.” 

Brexit 

The manifesto states that a Labour government would reset the relationship with the EU to “make Brexit work” and rules out membership of the Single Market, Customs Union or freedom of movement. 

Regulation 

Labour wishes to create the conditions to support innovation and growth in the sector, through supporting new technology, including Open Banking and Open Finance and ensuring a pro-innovation regulatory framework. It will therefore create a new Regulatory Innovation Office, bringing together existing functions across government. This office will help regulators update regulation, speed up approval timelines, and co-ordinate issues that span existing boundaries. No reference is made to CCA reform as was the case in Labour’s financial services plan earlier this year so we will impress the urgency of this upon an incoming Labour Government. 

Plaid Cymru 

Plaid Cymru have published For Fairness, For Ambition, For Wales. Evidently, its focus is what it can offer the Principality. Some points to note include the: 

  • Re-introduction of the cap on bankers’ bonuses.
  • UK rejoining the European Single Market and Customs Union at the earliest opportunity.
  • Creation of a Welsh Green New Deal with the re-skilling at the heart of this policy. Net Zero would be supported via the establishment a Just Transition Commission.
  • Introduction of a Right to Adequate Housing
  • Publication of a Green Paper on the path to Independence

 

UK Election - 22 days to go...

12 June 2024

Ed

 The Green Party

 Edward Simpson
Director of Government Affairs & Stakeholder Engagement

Today, the Green Party launched their Real Hope, Real Change manifesto

On housing, they favour the introduction of a ‘Right Price Charter’ to create more affordable homes, allied with 150,000 more social housing units every year, along with rent controls. They are also calling for local-authority-led, street-by-street retrofit programmes to insulate homes and provide clean heat. 

 For a Green Economic Transformation, they advocate: 

  • £40bn investment per year (paid for by extra borrowing, a wealth tax and Capital Gains Tax reform) in the shift to a green economy over the course of the next Parliament.
  • A carbon tax to drive fossil fuels out of our economy and raise money to invest in the green transition. 

Green MPs will push for: 

  • £12.4bn investment in skills and training, equipping workers to play a full role in the green economy.
  • A share of community ownership in local sustainable energy infrastructure such as wind farms. 

To support SMEs, Green MPs will press for: 

  • Regional mutual banks to be set up to drive investment in decarbonisation and local economic sustainability.
  • £2bn per year in grant funding for local authorities to help businesses decarbonise.
  • Community ownership to be encouraged through greater access to government funding in the transition to a zero-carbon economy. 

No mention was made of electric vehicles with the focus rather on improving the railways, buses and cycleways.

 

UK Election - 23 days to go...

11 June 2024 

skyline

The Conservative Party

Edward Simpson
Director of Government Affairs & Stakeholder Engagement

Launched today, the Conservative manifesto focuses on tax cuts, including to national insurance, with a long-term plan to abolish it for the self-employed. There is also a promise to cut stamp duty for first-time buyers for properties valued at up to £425,000.

The Conservatives pledge to not increase corporation tax and have included a commitment to extend “our ‘full expensing’ policy to leasing… once the fiscal conditions allow.” This is a welcome mention for one of the FLA’s flagship policy recommendations as per our manifesto

 Other Conservative commitments to business include: 

  • Keeping the VAT threshold under review and explore options to smooth the cliff edge at £90,000.
  • Improving access to finance for SMEs including through expanding Open Finance and by exploring the creation of Regional Mutual Banks.
  • Retaining key tax incentives that encourage small businesses to grow, though none of the schemes listed are relevant for FLA markets.
  • Ensuring that Basel III capital requirements do not inhibit lending to SMEs, which is something the FLA has advocated.
  • Continuing our world leading programmes including the Invest in Women Task Force and the Lilac Review to encourage more female and disabled entrepreneurs.
  • Working with the British Business Bank and private sector fund managers to secure a £250 million Invest In Women Fund to support female entrepreneurs.
  • Retaining the UK’s prominence as “the world’s innovative and competitive global financial centre”
  • Maintaining the “highest standards of consumer protection and prudential standards.”

 A Conservative Government will: 

  • Create 100,000 more apprenticeships in England by the end of the next Parliament.
  • Establish more Freeports and continue to back Investment Zones.
  • Extend the post-Brexit Shared Prosperity Fund for another three years to the benefit of the devolved nations.
  • Will introduce a binding, legal cap on migration “at a level that explicitly takes into account the costs and the benefits of migration.” The cap will fall every year of the next Parliament and cannot be breached and the level of the cap shall be subject to an annual vote in Parliament. 

The Conservatives remain committed to achieving Net Zero by 2050 but will do so in a “pragmatic and proportionate” way which “eases the burdens” on people, for example by not forcing them to install a heat pump. They will guarantee a vote in the next Parliament on the next stage of the pathway, with adoption of any new target accompanied by “proper consideration” of the plans and policies required to meet the target. They rule out further green levies and nor will they introduce road pricing. They pledge to reverse the expansion of the London ULEZ and to not impose 20mph speed limits (though localities may do so via referenda) 

The “world-leading” automotive industry is mentioned in the context of the “unprecedented” competition it faces from China in the electric vehicles market. A Conservative Government would support domestic car manufacturers “if there is evidence other countries are breaking global trade rules.”

 

UK Election - 24 days to go...

10 June 2024 

Edward Simpson
Director of Government Affairs & Stakeholder Engagement

ED2

From the FLA’s perspective, the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto ‘For a Fair Deal’, contains some ideas which mirror points we’ve made in our deliberations with them. The role of the British Business Bank will be expanded to ensure SMEs have access to capital and it will support economic partnerships to boost growth, including through collaboration with the major banks to fund the creation of a local banking sector dedicated to meeting the needs of small and medium-sized businesses. In a move that will upset larger banks, they would like to “restore the Bank Surcharge and Bank Levy revenues to 2016 levels in real terms.” 

The Lib Dems will launch an “ambitious” industrial strategy, including re-establishing the Industrial Strategy and putting it on a statutory footing. There is a concerted focus on investment in green infrastructure which features a pledge to introduce a general duty of care for the environment. In line with the FLA’s manifesto, they call for a “clear and stable roadmap to net zero.” Specifics on the green agenda include:

  • A ten-year emergency upgrade programme to ensure homes are warmer and cheaper to heat, starting with free insulation and heat pumps for those on low incomes, and which also ensures that all new homes are zero-carbon.
  • Providing incentives for installing heat pumps that cover the real costs.
  • Expanding incentives for households to install solar panels, including a “guaranteed fair price” for electricity sold back into the grid.
  • Make it cheaper and easier for drivers to switch to electric vehicles by rapidly rolling out far more charging points, reintroducing the plug-in car grant, and restoring the requirement that every new car and small van sold from 2030 is zero-emission.
  • Cutting VAT on public charging to 5%.
  • Invest in renewable power so that 90% of the UK’s electricity is generated from renewables by 2030.
  • Appoint a Chief Secretary for Sustainability in the Treasury to ensure that the economy is sustainable, resource-efficient and zero-carbon.
  • Establish a new Net Zero Delivery Authority to coordinate action across government departments and work with devolved administrations, and hand more powers and resources to local councils for local net zero strategies.

On the economy, the focus will be to “invest in renewable power and home insulation to drive a strong economic recovery, bring down energy bills and create clean, secure, well-paid new jobs.” More investment will be put into apprenticeships and new Lifelong Skills Grants. The Lib Dems also pledge “to support entrepreneurs, back small businesses, and reform business rates to help our high streets.”

The Lib Dems would introduce a national financial inclusion strategy and require both the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority to have regard to financial inclusion, such as delivering Sharia-compliant student finance and supporting vulnerable consumers. Consumers will be empowered by a new data strategy with the introduction of a requirement for all products to provide short, clear versions of their terms and conditions and ‘key facts’ in relation to peoples’ data and privacy.

They would introduce proportional representation, not only for Westminster but local councils too. They are keen to mend the “broken” relationship with the EU.

  

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