Tim Farron, new leader of the Liberal Democrats, used the second day of its annual party conference to promote its business policies, as he outlined plans for a new ‘startup allowance’ of £2,600, or £100 a week, for all new small firms.
Rebuilding the party
The Liberal Democrats lost over 50 seats during May’s General Election, forcing leader Nick Clegg to stand down.
Tim Farron is now running the party, which only has eight MPs, as he looks to promote a pro-business policy that hopes to win over disillusioned Labour party supporters.
‘‘Liberal Democrats believe that if you have a dream you should be supported to fulfil it. Those who take the chance to set out on their own and create a business should be celebrated and supported,’’ stated Farron at the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth this weekend.
‘‘Lib Dems recognise the courage of those who seek to create something new.’’
‘‘While Labour have said they now want to strip Government support for businesses and the Tories focus on giving tax cuts to giant corporations, we want to focus on entrepreneurs and small business seeking to grow.’’
The startup allowance would cost £26m a year and would be funded by a reversal of the most recent reduction to corporation tax, which was announced by George Osborne in the Tories summer budget.
‘Unashamed land grab’ for Labour voters
‘‘The Start Up Allowance would be open to anyone starting a new business with a loan from the start-up loans facility, which provides loans and mentoring to help new business owners develop their business plan,’’ continued Farron.
The party leader continued his speech by reflecting on the Lib Dem’s time in government from 2011-2015, where former business secretary Sir Vince Cable worked towards funding startups via the British Business Bank, which had £1 billion at its disposal.
‘‘We also created the New Enterprise Allowance – which meant those in receipt of JSA, or another out of work benefit who became self-employed, got an allowance worth up to £1,274 to help pay living costs – effectively continuing the benefit payments for the first few months while the business grew. This new policy builds on these offerings.’’
A party insider stated that this move by Farron is an ‘‘unashamed land grab’’ for Labour voters who care about small business and entrepreneurship who feel that the party will achieve nothing under the new leadership of left-wing politician Jeremy Corbyn.