The Scottish National Party is, and was, fundamentally opposed to any self-employed NICs increase condemning March’s budget announcement by saying the message it sent, prior to the subsequent U-turn, was one that “undermined and deterred” the UK’s entrepreneurial future rather than encouraged it.
Of the estimated 300,000 self-employed people in Scotland, at least 150,000 were expected to be affected by higher tax bills following the increase to their National Insurance Contributions – a measure the SNP’s economic spokesman, Stewart Hosie, described at the time as “a scandalous attack on aspiration”.
“The SNP recognise the enormous contribution small businesses and the self-employed make to the economy,” Hannah Bardell, the SNP’s spokesperson on Small Business, Enterprise and Innovation and candidate for Livingston, told IPSE during the build up to this month’s snap general election.
“The Tories have proven they can’t be trusted to deliver for self-employed people – the SNP opposed their policy to hike National Insurance Contributions during this year’s budget as it would have undermined and deterred the type of entrepreneurial behaviour that we should seek to encourage.”
The SNP, led by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who are defending 56 of the 59 parliamentary constituencies north of the border, also said the small business commissioner, which IPSE pushed for in its 2015 manifesto, must be given sufficient powers to effectively fulfil their responsibilities.
“SNP MPs supported the creation of a small business commissioner and in the last parliament we put forward amendments that called for more powers to be given to the commissioner so they could better fulfil the role,” Bardell continued.
“In Scotland, the SNP Scottish Government has led the way through the Small Business Bonus – an SNP policy that has saved smaller businesses throughout Scotland more than £1bn and has lifted many of these businesses out of paying rates altogether.”
Central to SNP’s policy is the absolute necessity that Scotland remains in the European single market after the Brexit negotiations are finalised so that those starting businesses and stepping out on their own are able to grow and stay ahead of the curve, rather than merely keep up.
“The Tories’ plans for a hard Brexit has caused uncertainty for businesses,” Bardell added. “We know the single market – a market of 500 million people and 31 countries – is key to the success and growth of businesses across the UK. Now, more than ever, it is important there are strong SNP voices in Westminster to hold the Tories to account and protect jobs, businesses and economy.”