Views from the top

We asked a number of our key local business leaders and entrepreneurs for their thoughts on how the upcoming election result will impact their sectors – and the wider economy. Here’s what they had to say on a variety of important subjects…

A ‘wish list’ for change

Danielle Friend & Jane Hodge from Create Balance Accountants and Tax Specialists on what they would like to see happen in the world of finance
“For businesses, we would like to see tax breaks and incentives to encourage growth – such as corporation tax going back down to 19% for all companies and an increase in the employment allowance to £7,000. The contentious IR35 legislation needs to go, as does the loan charge issue that has impacted many taxpayers, with some seeing their lives ruined and costing them thousands of pounds in fees. Other areas we would like to see addressed include unfreezing the tax-free personal allowance and adjustments to the current tax bands to stop the squeeze on middle earners.”

Move in the right direction

Rupert Farrant Partner at Durlings, Chartered Surveyors and Property Consultants shares his thoughts on how the outcome of the election will impact the property sector
“I think with lower inflation and more positive economic indicators this will boost confidence and a higher transaction rate. I’m not however convinced that values will rise to a significant degree. The planning process continues to hamper progress with development – for housing targets to be met then a smoother and speedier process needs to happen.
Perhaps they could offer different planning application packages – i.e. you pay for a speedier decision. This might fast-track some of the larger applications and thus get closer to meeting the housing targets. Would also like to see a reform of the Energy Performance requirements. Perhaps stricter requirements for the larger buildings (which contribute to a great carbon footprint) and lesser requirements for the smaller buildings to make it easier for small business to afford the rents.”

A need for economic certainty

Gillian Palmer of the Finance Hub discusses what the General Election means for investment – and a key way it can be achieved 
“I hope this snap election does not cause uncertainty and disruption again to the UK as I feel we are only getting back to normal since the pandemic. Political uncertainty is not good for this country. After numerous lockdowns followed by Liz Truss’s 6-week stint in Government at the end of 2022, I feel since the start of this year it is the first time I have seen positivity with business owners. They are investing in their business, and are only starting to steady the ship. In terms of what I would like to see happen with the next Government that would be a freeze put on Stamp Duty as this stimulated the property market in lockdown – which had a knock-on effect for every sector associated with this industry.”

Make it work

Neil Simmons, founder of TN Recruits reveals why support of working parents should be high up on the next Government’s list
“In terms of how this election will impact us locally it’s important to note that in both the TN and ME postcodes where we operate, we are in an affluent part of the UK and many of our clients’ customers tend to be unaffected by any turbulence in the financial markets which we may see elsewhere as a result of the election. But generally growth of the economy should be at the forefront of the election campaign. If the economy is strong, we can see improved wages and better public services which may then lead to lower taxes. One thing I feel passionately about is more support for potential working parents. Frequently we hear of parents who are more than willing to work but with rising nursery costs versus potential earnings, they often decide it’s not worth their while. Perhaps the support could be increased contribution to nursery fees? There is an army of working parents who can contribute greatly to the country’s workforce and ultimately the economy if they are given the chance.”

Chances for stability

Joseph Oates, partner at CooperBurnett, tells us why political and economic stability is now required
“During the campaign I would think business will be listening carefully to policies announced by the competing parties and thinking ahead as to their potential impact. Clear manifesto commitments would help.  Following the outcome (and whatever it is) business would be hoping that there is a period of political and economic stability. Within our particular professional sector we’d like to see stable macroeconomic conditions to allow our business and private clients to plan for the future with maximum certainty. Greg Clark listened and supported local businesses and has championed Tunbridge Wells as a centre of excellence for commercial opportunities and growth. He’s advocated for the community and should be proud of his role in the A21 extension and new Pembury Hospital.”

Time for protection

Sophie Forrest-Lavery, founder of Forrest Group, on the possible restructuring of employment rights the General Election will bring
“The election could significantly impact businesses in many ways with changes in Government policies being a dominating factor. Labour are currently predicted as favourites to win the forthcoming election and their recently published pledge for workers, promises that if successful there will be big changes to HR. 
In their manifesto they vow to, not least, bring changes to rules around short service dismissals and want to give employees protection against unfair dismissal from day one of their employment. If this update were to go ahead it would mean a change to disciplinary procedures and it could open up the flood gates of unfair dismissal claims.
I believe Greg Clark has a lot to be proud of during his time as our conservative MP and there will certainly be large shoes to fill for his replacement.”

Strive for confidence and purpose

Siobhan Stirling, Managing Director, Sharp Minds Communications gives her thoughts on how a little imaginative thought can go a long way in the right hands
 “If you look at the polling figures and how such disparities have played out historically, not many people would have put their money on a general election before the summer holidays but it’s happened. There’s been some positive news with inflation and gross domestic product both heading in the right directions, but this hasn’t been enough to generate the upswing in support for the Government that you would normally expect to fuel a decision to go to the polls sooner rather than later. Hopefully, the outcome will provide much-needed confidence and purpose, both vital for business success, especially after years of paralysis and flip-flopping leadership.
Marketing and PR are very dependent upon fortunes in other sectors, so we’re really looking for imaginative support for business to bring the economy back to life: confident, stable leadership creating long-term solutions, rather than sticking plasters, to increase opportunities and sustained productivity growth. Marketing and PR is in the front line of generative AI adoption; whoever forms the new Government is going to need to give urgent thought to AI regulation.”