Labour Manifesto 2017:
The majority of businesses play by the rules: they pay their taxes and their workers reasonably and on time, and they operate with respect for the environment and local communities. That is why it is vital that government ensures that businesses doing the right thing are rewarded rather than undercut or outbid by those unscrupulous few that cut corners, whether on taxes, workers’ conditions, environmental standards, or consumer safety and protection.
But our business culture doesn’t always work like this. Scandals such as the failure of BHS show how the long- term growth of a company can be sacrificed for the sake of a quick buck.
When shareholders are looking for quick short-term returns, they encourage companies to cut corners. That means they look to cut wages, instead of investing for the long term, or they spend longer inventing new tax avoidance schemes than they do inventing new products.
By reforming the rules our companies operate under, we can make sure they stay focused on delivering shared wealth. Labour will amend company law so that directors owe a duty directly not only shareholders, but to employees, customers, the environment and the wider public, and we will consult on bringing forward appropriate legislation within this Parliament.
Labour will amend the takeover regime to ensure that businesses identified as being systemically important’ have a clear plan in place to protect workers and pensioners when a company is taken over. Labour will also legislate to reduce pay inequality by introducing an Excessive Pay Levy on companies with staff on very high pay.
Our small and medium-sized enterprises SMEs are the backbone of our economy, providing 60 per cent of private-sector jobs. Technological changes, like the spread of digital manufacturing and rapid communication, mean smaller, faster businesses will be the future of our economy. Yet this Conservative government has taken small businesses for granted. Labour is the party of small businesses. We understand the challenges our smaller businesses face. In order to provide the support many small businesses need,
a Labour government will:
- Mandate the new National Investment Bank, and regional development banks in every region, to identify where other lenders fail to meet the needs of SME s and prioritise lending to improve the funding gap.
- Reinstate the lower small-business corporation tax rate.
- Introduce a package of reforms to business rates – including switching from RPI to CPI indexation, exempting new investment in plant and machinery from valuations, and ensuring that businesses have access to a proper appeals process – while reviewing the entire business rates system in the longer run.
Scrap quarterly reporting for businesses with a turnover of under £85,000.
Declare war on late payments by:
- Using government procurement to ensure that anyone bidding for a government contract pays its own suppliers within 30 days.
- Developing a version of the Australian system of binding arbitration and fines for persistent late-payers for the private and public sectors.We will also bring forward legislation to create a proper legal definition for co-operative ownership. The National Investment Bank and regional development banks will be charged with helping support our co-operative sector. Labour will aim to double the size of the co-operative sector in the UK, putting it on a par with those in leading economies like Germany or the ?US.