Without the inconvenience of coalition partners to keep on board, David Cameron is clear to pursue all of his party's manifesto pledges and I have identified 14 policies companies can start to plan for:
1) The Conservatives' commitment to an in/out EU referendum could have a big impact on companies trading within Europe and on overseas companies considering investing in UK PLC, and hoping to do business in Europe. As we saw in the week before the election, the financial markets don't like uncertainty. As a referendum gets closer we are likely to see that again.
2) Repealing the Human Rights Act and putting in its place a British Bill of Rights will bring ultimate control of court decisions under the UK Supreme Court rather than the EU Court of Justice.
3) A review of Business Rates will take place this year with any changes coming into effect in 2017.
4) Devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament may impact on companies operating in Scotland. Whether it will have a positive or negative impact will, of course, depend on how those powers are used. In particular devolving tax-raising powers brings with it the prospect of different tax regimes and companies close to the border may consider relocating in order to take advantage of them.
5) The Conservatives have said they will address the issue of zero hours contracts by banning exclusivity clauses. This could actually be done very easily using existing legislation in the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act. The Government would just need to bring the relevant clause into effect.
6) There is a commitment not to raise VAT or National Insurance contributions during the course of the parliament.
7) Small and medium-sized companies could benefit from a commitment to increase the share of central government contracts going to this sector.
8) There are proposals to complete the ring-fencing of the high street banks' retail operations from their investment arms by 2019.
9) The manifesto states that companies of more than 250 employees will have to disclose their gender pay gap and publish details of the average wages for male and female employees.
10) Under the Gender Diversity Initiative, commenced in 2010 and previously sponsored by Vince Cable, FTSE350 companies are recommended to increase female representation at board level to 25% by the end of this year. The Conservatives say they are committed to encouraging companies to go further than 25% but haven't specified what this will mean in practice.
11) The Conservatives say they will implement the Low Pay Commission's recommendation of raising the minimum wage to £6.70 this autumn and to over £8 by 2020.
12) Employees of large companies and those in the public sector can expect to have up to three days paid annual leave to carry out volunteer work.
13) The Conservatives plan to maintain the existing cap on non-EU skilled work migration.
14) There will be new legislation relating to the Trade Unions and to prevent what is described as "disruptive and undemocratic strike action", though this is not precisely defined.
While it is useful to know what is coming down the line, we can't yet be sure of the timing of many of these policies. Equiniti will be issuing further and more detailed guidance as the legislative timetable becomes clear. The Queen’s speech will set out details of the 2015/16 programme on 27 May 2015.
In the meantime, if you have any queries about how any of these issues may affect your business, please contact your Relationship Manager.
E-Zine issue: May 2015
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