With just hours to go before the election, the Conservatives and Labour remain neck and neck.
While neither of the two main parties is expected to win an outright majority, whichever one of them finds itself in government after 7 May will likely be the strongest power in a potential coalition.
But what will the election results mean for British retailers?
Both parties have committed to reducing the deficit, so the scope for spending on new policies is very limited. Although this results in a broadly similar approach to most business issues, the devil is as always in the detail and small differences could have a big impact on your business.
To give you an idea of what to expect, we have set out the Conservatives and Labour's key points on retail-related policies below.
- major review of business rates
- keep small business rate relief and business rates retail discount of currently £1,500 (for occupied retail properties worth £50k or less)
- cut, then freeze business rates for over 1.5 million smaller business properties, with a rateable value of less than £50,000
- keep corporation tax at 20%
- keep the most competitive corporation tax rate in the G7 (allowing Labour to increase the rate up to 26.5%, which is currently the next lowest rate in force in Canada)
- promote further competition in the energy sector by ensuring every business has a Smart Meter by 2020 and can switch suppliers within one day
- support the safe development of shale gas
- support North Sea oil and gas
- freeze energy bills until 2017
- give the regulator the power to cut bills
- reform the energy market by separating the generation and supply businesses of the "Big Six"
- in-out referendum on Britain's membership of the EU by the end of 2017
- keep the pound
- reclaim power from Brussels and allow national governments to work together to block unwanted EU legislation
- resist EU attempts to restrict legitimate financial services activities
- work to reform the EU and retain Britain's membership
- focus on the completion of the single market and tighter budget controls
- drive reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and a spending review of EU agencies
- keep the pound
- ensure 200,000 new starter homes at 20 per cent below market price for first-time buyers under 40, are built
- extend Help to Buy to 2020 and introduce new Help to Buy ISA
- extend Right to Buy to Housing Association tenants
- ensure at least 200,000 new homes are built a year by 2020
- give local authorities the power to give first call to first time buyers on new homes in areas of housing growth
- build Future Homes Fund by requiring that money saved in Help to Buy ISAs be invested in increasing housing supply
- increase minimum wage to £6.70 by the autumn and to £8 by the end of the decade
- raise the tax free Personal Allowance so that those working 30 hours on the Minimum Wage pay no Income Tax at all
- raise 40p tax threshold to £50,000
- raise minimum wage to more than £8 by October 2019
- use procurement incentives to promote the living wage
- reverse 50p tax cut
- introduce tax rebates for businesses that sign up to the living wage within the first year of a Labour government
It is looking likely there may be a coalition Government. So it is important to consider other parties policies that may affect retailers
The Green Party
- propose to ban new out of town car dependent retail parks
- raise minimum wage to £10 by 2020
- greater powers for local government
- charge for plastic bags
- increase house building to 300,000 a year
- set in motion at least 10 new Garden Cities
While it will probably take several weeks for the dust to settle and our new government to emerge after 7 May, it is advisable to prepare yourself now and assess the impact on your retail business before these policies become a reality.
This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.