A better future for Britain depends on a growing economy, with opportunity and prosperity within everyone’s reach. The first step to achieving that better future is to make a success of the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. Such a lot is riding on them. If we get Brexit right, great opportunities lie ahead. We can forge a new role for ourselves in the world as outward-looking, global trading nation.
But getting that right deal for Britain will be a challenging task. The right leadership will be essential. That is why the choice at this General Election is so important. Without strong and stable leadership to get the best deal for Britain, we will not seize the opportunities ahead. The choice to focus on at this election is between me and Jeremy Corbyn – which of us do you want to lead our country and get the best deal from Brexit? Only I and my strong Conservative team have a credible plan to get the right deal for Britain abroad, and a better deal for ordinary working families here at home.
That starts with agreeing a new deep and special partnership with the European Union, which includes a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement. Leaving the European Union also means we will be free to strike our own trade agreements with countries outside the EU. That will open up new possibilities for our economy, including for the self-employed. Our election manifesto also sets out our clear plan to build a stronger economy and a more prosperous country here at home. There is much in that plan which freelancers and the self-employed will welcome.
Last year I set up the Taylor Review into Modern Employment Practices, and I look forward to Matthew Taylor publishing his report later this year. Be assured – I am determined that the interests of the self-employed and those people working in the ‘gig’ economy will be properly protected.
Government can and should take action to improve the business environment for the self-employed. So we will use the government’s buying power to ensure that big contractors comply with the Prompt Payment Code. To help make Britain the world’s most dynamic digital economy, we will make doing business online easier for companies and consumers. That means ensuring that consumers and businesses have access to the digital infrastructure they need to succeed.
Our Universal Service Obligation will ensure that by 2020 every home and every business in Britain has access to high speed broadband. By 2022 we will extend mobile coverage to 95 per cent geographic coverage and ensure all major roads and main line trains enjoy full and uninterrupted mobile phone signal, alongside guaranteed Wi-Fi internet service on all such trains.
Another area where Government can make doing business easier is in the area of taxation. Our tax system remains much too complicated, making it too hard for self-employed people to assess their taxes. So if re-elected, I will simplify it. Our manifesto also contains a clear commitment not to increase the level of VAT. The Conservatives will always be the party that keeps tax as low as possible, and it is our firm intention to reduce taxes on Britain’s businesses and working families.
Self-employed people make a huge contribution to our economic success and a Conservative government will always back those who work hard and play by the rules. At this election, I am asking you to back me and my team, to ensure that our country has the strong and stable leadership we need to secure the right Brexit deal for our economy, and to deliver a better future for everyone in our country
In their manifesto, the Conservative Party has said: “The Conservative Party is the party of enterprise and of the entrepreneur. We understand that small businesses are the wellspring of growth. They form a key part of British life, valued for their contribution to every community across the country. We will continue to support small businesses through business rate relief and low taxation, and by reducing the bureaucracy and regulation that prevents small businesses from flourishing.
“In the modern economy many people choose jobs like driving, delivering and coding, that are highly flexible and can be mixed with other employment. This brings considerable advantages to millions of people but we should not ignore the challenges this kind of employment creates. These workers are officially classed as self-employed and therefore have fewer pension entitlements, reduced access to benefits, and no qualification for sick pay and holiday pay. Yet the nature of their work is different from the traditional self-employed worker who might be a sole trader, a freelancer or running their own business.
“We will make sure that people working in the ‘gig’ economy are properly protected. Last October, the government commissioned Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts, to review the changing labour market. We await his final report but a new Conservative government will act to ensure that the interests of employees on traditional contracts, the self-employed and those people working in the ‘gig’ economy are all properly protected.”
The party has also pledged to:
• Ensure that 33 per cent of central government purchasing will come from SMEs by the end of the parliament
• Extend pension auto-enrolment to the self-employed
• Promote long-term savings and pensions products – including the Lifetime ISA – to encourage and incentivise more people to make provision for long-term needs.