As predicted, there were no great surprises in Ed Miliband’s statements around small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Labour manifesto. Mr Miliband recognised that SMEs are the key to economic growth, and the manifesto promises a suite of initiatives to address the concerns of SMEs in relation to business rates and similar issues, such as National Insurance contributions.
Business owners always have divided opinions on political manifestos. They need to balance the attraction of a particular suite of policies to address their concerns (such as property taxation and employment costs) with the wider implications for the macroeconomy caused by any change in government. Every political manifesto will have a similar shopping list of ideas to attract new voters.
The big question remains: ‘Will this be enough?’ Re-writing Keynes, in the long run, manifestos are quickly forgotten. Business owners rely on the underlying strength of the real economy. SME owners will be looking to see if the political parties will also be developing plans that encourage public sector agencies and large corporates to adopt a range of procurement policies that could make a real difference.
Getting this right secures survival, innovation and growth – much more than, for example, a one-off adjustment to property tax.
Professor Kiran Trehan, Professor of Leadership and Enterprise Development, University of Birmingham