As of February 2023

Business and Jobs

Small businesses account for 60 per cent of private sector jobs; growth and economic recovery begins with them.

Key Policies

  • Lower the tax burden on small business by requiring them to only pay National Insurance Contributions (currently just under 14 per cent of salary) once they have more than five employees.
  • Replace Business Rates with a fairer system that taxes those that own the land, rather than require companies to pay tax based on the value of the building they are using.
  • Create an Enterpreneur's Allowance that would give start-ups small regular sums (around £100 a week) for the first six months of their business to help them get up and running.
  • Bring down trade barriers and increase availability of staff by rebuilding the UK's trading relationship with Europe.
  • Support research and development, particularly in green industries, to help drive the economy forward.
Business and jobs

When it comes to business and jobs, we believe the biggest gap lies in how small and medium sized businesses are treated. The secret to greater and sustained economic growth lies in giving these businesses more of a chance to succeed and thrive. 

Do you know: that 6 out of 10 jobs in the private sector are within small businesses?

Across the country, locals talk about how much they value and wish to support small businesses and small business owners but their task is made that much harder by policies that have been designed to meet the needs of big business or tackle issues within the public sector; the result of a political system in which the two main parties are largely funded by those groups.

Small businesses struggle most in getting up and running and then staying profitable for long enough to stabilise. The Covid pandemic and loss of the European Union as a seamless trading partner has made things much harder in recent years for entrepreneurs. 

The self-employed, underskilled and out of work

It's not just small businesses that needs a government that works in their favour. The self-employed are rarely given proper consideration; likewise those who find themselves with skills that are in less demand, and those who have yet to find their way in the marketplace. The Liberal Democrats have clear, pragmatic solutions to help all these people who acts as fundamental drivers to economic growth and health. 


We have a range of policy solutions to help businesses grow and invest:

For small businesses

  • A lower tax burden: small business will only need to pay National Insurance Contributions - which are currently at 13.8 per cent of salary - when they have five or more employees. This can be done by quadrupling the Employment Allowance
  • Create an Enterpreneur's Allowance that would give start-ups small regular sums (around £100 a week) for the first six months of their business to help them get up and running.
  • Improved competition policy that would allow small business to compete more effectively for contracts.
  • Rent relief for those business with little to spare but for whom their place of business is essential to run.

For workers

  • Embrace flexible working and remote working to help improve people's work lives and prouctivity, including making fast internet access more affordable.
  • A 'Skills Wallet' that will allow people to choose and learn new skills and take on new jobs: money will be automatically set aside by the government for people to spend on courses for themselves (£4,000 when you 25; £3,000 at 40; and £3,000 at 55.) See also Education.

Jobs and growth

  • A replacement for outdated business rates. Currently companies pay rates based on the value of the building they are in. They rarely own the land itself. This approach puts the onus on business owners and means that if they invest in their own business, they can end up paying more in tax because its value goes up. We propose taxing the owner of the land itself on the value of that land - shifting the burden of business and encouraging greater investment. We call this a Commercial Landowner Levy

We are not the only political party to identify the current business rates approach as a problem. In 2021, Labour's shadow chancellor said it would scrap business rates because it punishes entrepreneurs and business investment - the same points we made in a report published back in 2018. Labour has yet to produce a plan.


Business also agrees: in 2019, the British Retail Consortium pointed to problems in the current rates system. That sparked the government (Conservative party) to promise reform. But three years later, nothing has happened despite efforts at the party's own conference to push for change.


In 2023, the government announced its version of a Commercial Landowner Levy but it only applies to new development and has little connection to our proposal beyond having the same name. 

  • Bring down trade barriers and increase availability of staff by rebuilding the UK's trading relationship with Europe. We will negotiate deals to allow for low-cost and fast-tracked work visas, look at moving work visas from the Home Office to the Business Department, and pave the way for rejoining the Single Market.
  • Support research and development to help drive the economy forward, particularly in zero-carbon, environmental and medical technologies.

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