Categories

Economy

Fair markets

Policies in this section only affect the UK as a whole unless specified.

We believe in a fair economy where businesses are less constrained by government. This means reducing regulation, a simple taxation system and giving workers more power to negotiate how businesses are run.

Sections:

A better deal for self-employed workers, small businesses and freelancers. We support a range of measures to create a fairer system for self-employed workers and small businesses. This includes creating a new definition for both the self-employed and freelancers and acting to remove areas that have unnecessarily harmed individuals, move all three onto the PAYE system including to register dividends and using a disability top-up to ensure anyone who needs sick leave and can’t afford it is able to receive support.

A private sector watchdog. This watchdog would focus on upholding regulations and workers’ rights. This would include ensuring minimum wage requirements are met by employers, investigating mistreatment of unions and union members, suppression of unions being formed or operating, companies breaking regulations and protecting collective bargaining. To protect collective bargaining, the watchdog would be able to sanction companies that break the rules on collective bargaining. This includes breaking a collective bargaining agreement, not negotiating an agreement properly, firing and rehiring employees to renegotiate agreements.

Create a Minister for Competition. This minister would oversee the Competitions and Markets Authority ensuring the UK economy remains competitive.

Create an Office of Regulatory Simplification. This would be similar to the Office of Tax Simplification but instead it would have the task of identifying areas where regulation could be simplified or repealed and how this could be done. It would then report this to Her Majesty’s Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer with recommendations each year. It would also review new proposals for legislation looking at how burdensome they are for the economy. This would involve oversight of the Business impact target (BIT) assessments.

Strengthen the Competition and Markets Authority. Currently the UK has far too many monopolies and oligopolies in operation. To counter this, we feel the Competition and Markets Authority should be given more power to break up companies. Although no competition may seem initially beneficial to companies in the long term they stagnate and have less drive to make services better for their customers. A more competitive economy means more choice and lower prices for consumers.

A National Sovereign Wealth Fund. We propose that ringfenced areas of income tax revenue, which include a pensions and social care fund, should be placed within a wider sovereign wealth fund. This would be with the aim to keep these savings from falling below the rate of inflation.

Workers rights:

Elected members on company boards. This would include the adoption of a dual board system as is used in Finland and Germany. It would have a management board which looks at the short-term operations of the company whilst the supervisory board would look at the long-term strategy of the company and will keep the management board in check. 50% of the supervisory board must be elected by all members of the company in a one person one vote secret ballot of everyone in the company that wishes to stand.

If companies don’t do this, then they will face a levy from the government making it economically beneficial to allow workers on their company boards. It would also only apply to companies on the stock market as is the case in Germany.

This is moving towards a system where the workforce knows what is going on inside their place of work and it can lead to easier resolution of conflicts between management and the workers without needing trade union action. Workers will also add to the company board as they are more likely to look at the long term with a possible risk of unemployment whereas shareholders can sell their shares more easily.

A national framework for collective bargaining. This would involve the employer and a group of employees negotiating the conditions they are employed under. In order to ensure all employees can access this we propose a new national framework for collective bargaining which will ensure negotiations on both a sector by sector and business by business level. This will allow businesses to remain flexible whilst giving workers more say over their working conditions. The deals themselves would be negotiated by collections of workers and trade unions. This would however allow employees to negotiate on areas such as wages, employee benefits, types of employment contracts such as whether employees have zero-hour contracts and working conditions.

The right to flexible working must be guaranteed. Employees must be able to request flexible working conditions – such as working from home, compressed hours, part-time working – from day-one of a job and unless this would obstruct the performance of their duties the requests should be considered and either agreed to or negotiated. No employee can be denied a flexible working request without a reason, and employers must make all efforts to accommodate employee preferences when it comes to flexible working.

Allow employees six months leave to start up a business. This would copy Sweden by allowing the employees of a business a six-month period of leave if they want to start up a new business. It would only be available if the new business is not in direct competition with the business they are currently in. In this time the position that person is in within the business can’t change. Just as it works in Sweden, it would be available to employees after they have spent six months in a business, businesses can only reject this leave if the person is absolutely vital to the functioning of the business and it would only apply to business of over 250 people.

To be an independent contractor, a minimum standard of ‘work freedom’ must be met. This would prevent businesses from designating de facto employees as independent contractors or workers although employees themselves could class themselves as independent contractors. Any party who is obliged to follow a corporation or senior’s day to day instructions in order to obtain and generate work cannot be classified as an independent contractor. Those obligated to a corporate entity for their shift patterns, hours and work are employees, regardless of whether they use their own equipment in the course of work. The only exception to this would be when a set number or pattern of shifts are agreed in advance between contractor and corporate entity and can be revoked by the contractor at any time.

Corporate entities will no longer be allowed to rely on employees to finance the running of vehicles and equipment to be used in the course of employment, unless that entity can prove to the private sector watchdog that it does not employ an individual or direct their working patterns.

Overtime must be compensated either with financial remuneration or with time off in lieu. No employee or worker should be carrying out duties for an employer without being compensated for it. Carrying out ‘free’ work is not in the essence of a free and fair society and nor does it bode well for employees across a workforce. Any employer enforcing unpaid overtime can be fined.

Enshrine a minimum living wage in law for everyone over the age of 16. This wage should be the same for all over 16s, so as to avoid age discrimination in employment decisions. The wage should be calculated in line with the living wage and there should be an increased minimum wage for London and other regions with a high cost of living. This will ensure that everyone who is earning is earning a fair minimum and is able to live a decent and comfortable life, while removing loopholes for employers to give out poverty pay to younger workers. The number of HMRC staff conducting investigations into the minimum wage must be increased in order to ensure that employers failing in their duty to pay a new minimum living wage are caught and know that they will be caught.

Enshrine a right to disconnect and a right to a personal life in law. No employee may be penalised in any way for failing to respond to work demands outside their contracted hours. This would exclude professions where this is required such as nurses on call.

Taxation:

Unified Income Tax. We support merging National Insurance, capital gains tax and dividends taxes into the existing income rates. For the capital gains tax and dividends taxes these taxes would be paid at the same rate as other forms of income whilst National Insurance be combined with Income Tax. This would take gradually aligning the exemptions from each of these taxes and then eventually merging them completely. There would also be a review of certain investments that are currently untaxed capital gains.

Tax brackets would also be replaced with a ‘formula-based’ system as has been proposed by the IPPR. This would help to remove cliff edges between tax brackets and would vary depending on people’s total earnings.

A Proportional Property Tax. Stamp duty, business rates and council tax should be replaced with a single flat tax on the value of a property, a proportional property tax. This would be the same rate that has proposed by Fairer Share of 0.48% and would only be paid by owners of properties rather than renters.

However, second homes, empty and non-resident owned homes will be charged a rate of 0.96%. This would allow a proportional property tax to be both revenue neutral and to provide an additional 595,000 new homes with second homes released onto the market, empty homes that would be occupied, more transactions with the abolition of stamp duty and houses being built that already have planning permission.

This would be neutral in terms of the revenue lost from council tax, stamp duty and business compared to the new revenue from a Proportional Property tax. To ensure this system is fair for all homes regardless of when they were built there will be annual revaluations each year.

In Scotland Stamp Duty was replaced by the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and in Wales it was replaced by the Land Transaction Tax. These would all be replaced with a proportional property tax if supported by Scotland or Wales.

A proportional property tax can then be replaced by a Land Value Tax in the long term. As a result, it will replace a Proportional Property Tax and the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings. This will be a 1% rate on all land and a Land Value Tax can also be used during recessions to increase spending without reducing productivity.

A fairer VAT system. Currently mobility aids and products to end smoking are given a reduced rate of VAT but we would either push from them to be exempt from VAT.

The top level for inheritance tax should be 50% and the bottom rate should be 25%. Inheritance tax is taxation paid on someone’s estate (money, property and possessions) after they have died. Inheritance tax will be paid on any money over £200,000 regardless of the recipient unless it is a charity in which it would start at £300,000.

We would add in brackets:
Exempt below: £200,000
25%: £200,000 – £500,000
50% above: £500,000

Progressive corporation tax rates. We would exempt small businesses from paying corporation tax rates whilst ensuring larger businesses pay their fair share. For smaller businesses this would involve a tax-free rate on corporation tax for small businesses. If this is prevented by the Global Minimum Corporation Tax then we would instead seek to exempt them from corporation tax all-together.

We would support brackets of:

Exempt below: £60,000

Lower rate: 20% between £60,001 and £250,000

Higher rate: 26%

  • UK s a whole.

Tax Based Regulation. Tax based regulation is where the government places a tax on a harmful product and uses the revenue for one of the following: funding research into better alternatives, tax breaks for better products or treatment. This means that rather than a complete ban on something, it makes it more profitable to move to better alternatives. This will be used in several areas. The first is existing policy which includes areas such as product market regulations where we would use tax-based regulation rather than standard regulations. The second is to promote a switch away from environmentally harmful products and towards products that are less harmful. The revenue from this would be used for environmentally friendly alternatives and research into alternatives. There would be several existing taxes involved in this: the Vehicle Excise Duty would now fund tax breaks for cars running off of electric, hydrogen or long-range hybrids, Air Passenger Duty which would fund research into greener aviation fuels or hydrogen power and the Landfill Tax would all go towards making more easily recyclable products cheaper. For the Hydrocarbon Oil Duty where the money goes would depend on the type of fuel and its possible uses. We also support introducing new taxes such as a carbon tax which would go towards subsidising renewable energy sources. Finally, funding from alcohol and tobacco duties will go into NHS treatment whilst we would abolish gambling duties.

  • England only.

Tell people how their taxes are spent. This will be done using spreadsheets to show how the government spends taxes. It will be based off the system already used by some Nordic countries. England would have this system administered by the House of Commons.

End the backdated IR35 (loan charge) tax on individuals rather than businesses. The loan charge is being used to change tax on people who paid tax through another business rather than directly with their client. Whilst many of the businesses who have offered these loans have not been forced to pay money back, individuals have been. We disagree with backdated taxes and would end the loan charge on past taxation.