Caroline Lucas, Green Party of England and Wales MP for Brighton Pavillion, and Adrian Ramsay, forme
Ellen Forster

Election 2015: Sussex businesses have their say

As the countdown to the General Election continues, we have been working closely with small businesses across the region to find out their hopes, doubts and predictions for the biggest political event of the year.

Five years ago, the Conservative Party secured majority votes in all eight constituencies in West Sussex, while East Sussex was split between Tory, Liberal Democrat and even the Green Party of England and Wales. In fact, 2010 was a monumental year for the environmentalist party as Caroline Lucas won its first seat in Brighton Pavilion. With that in mind, we approached businesses across both East and West Sussex, asking them to share their views on the upcoming election:

Mike Chapman, Senior Manager Corporate Tax at Lewes-based Knill James, said: “The risk of an HMRC enquiry into business tax returns will continue to increase in the coming year, and the lines between ‘tax evasion’ and ‘tax avoidance’ – which already blurred – are likely to fade even further.

“There are also some tax changes in the pipeline that were announced in last year’s budget and come into play in 2015 regardless of the next colour of government.

“Ecommerce is a boom industry for Sussex and companies should be aware of new EU laws on VAT for the sector.

“Companies that own residential property should be aware that, from April, ATED (Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings) must be paid on residential properties that are corporately owned and worth over £1m (previously £2m). This threshold will fall to £500k from April 2016.

“But it’s not all bad news: also from April the main and small companies rate of corporation tax will be aligned at 20% - the lowest headline corporation tax rate of the major European economies, and joint lowest in the G20.”

“The Patent Box reduced rate of corporation tax continues to fall too, with relevant Intellectual Property profits taxed at 12% from the start of the new financial year.

“Moreover, from next month, employers with employees under 21 years old will not incur Class 1 secondary National Insurance Contributions up to the upper earnings limit for those employees.

“There are also some great capital allowances tax breaks this year in respect of investments in eligible plant & machinery. The Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) permits expenditure before 31 December 2015 of up to £500k to be written off in full against corporation or business income tax.

“Those, then, are the policies written in stone. The rest depend very much on the ballot box – and predictions are almost impossible to make.”

Owain Wright, co-founder of Brighton-based Lick Yoghurt said: “As a business that is based on the coast, and as people who grew up by the beautiful Pembrokeshire beaches and countryside, we’re always supportive of people who have the environment in mind.

“Caroline Lucas gave an inspiring talk at our Lick School event in our Warehouse last year, and we wish her luck for her campaign.”

Chris Bedford, managing director of Open Technology, said: “With election pressures running high, a focal point for many parties seems to be furiously cutting funds in areas such as local governments, defence, police and public services. Cutting funds in these areas has huge implications and will negatively impact livelihoods. Ironically, they are unnecessary.”

“A very real and tangible option for reducing costs and driving the economy is staring us in the face. Energy efficiency doesn’t make many headlines but it’s an easy target that government should look to with some urgency. Not only will reducing energy consumption using smart technologies achieve huge savings but it will support long-term environmental sustainability as well.

“What I would like to know, is why we are not taking advantage of these low-hanging fruits when such an opportunity exists to do so, with minimal impact on the important public services that our society can ill-afford to streamline any further.”

Next week, we’ll be asking businesses across to Surrey to share their views on the General Election - send your views to ellen.forster@bdaily.co.uk

Missed last week’s round-up on Kent business opinions?

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