On July 8, the Government unveiled the first purely Conservative Budget for 19 years. Chancellor George Osborne’s “new contract” for the country introduced a National Living Wage for all working people over the age of 25.
Minimum wage will reach £7.20 per hour next April, rising to £9 by 2020. The BBC has estimated 2.5 million people could receive an average £5,000 rise over five years. The owners of start-ups and SMEs may be less enamoured by the change. Some retail groups, such as The Association of Convenience Stores, have expressed fears that their members may be hard hit by higher wages.
Companies were not forgotten. In a move the Government claims will benefit a million businesses, Corporation Tax will be slashed by 1 percent to reach 19 percent in 2017 and 18 percent by 2020.
Employer National Insurance will also be cut by £1,000 from April 2016, when the Employment Allowance rises from £2,000 to £3,000. A a result, from spring next year, a small business could employ four people full time on the National Living Wage and pay no National Insurance at all.
Sunday trading laws were given a shake-up. Current legislation limits many retailers to trading for six hours on Sundays, between 10am and 6pm. Osborne will allow elected mayors and local councils to extend opening times if they feel it will benefit their local economy.