Boris Johnson PM Conservatives

Having secured a resounding victory in the 2019 General Election, wrenching seats away from the Labour party in its heartland, THIIS looks back over the Conservative pledges and what effect they could have on the mobility industry.

After weeks of campaigning, Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has won one of the largest majorities of any government since 2001 and the largest Tory majority since Margaret Thatcher in 1987.

With 648 of the UK’s 650 constituencies having declared their results, the Tories have obtained a decisive 363 seats to enable a substantial House of Commons majority, providing Boris Johnson with more power and freedom to pursue his political agenda.

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But what impact could this new Conservative Government have on suppliers, retailers and end-users in the mobility, independent living and assistive technology sector?

Brexit

Arguably the clearest message to come out of the campaign, the PM’s first priority seems likely to follow through on the ‘Get Brexit Done’ mantra and begin moving the Brexit process forward.

During his victory speech in Westminster before sunrise this morning, Mr Johnson exclaimed: “We broke the deadlock, we ended the gridlock, we smashed the roadblock.”

He continued: “With this election, I think we’ve put an end to all those miserable threats of a second referendum.”

“We politicians have squandered the last three years, three and a half years in squabbles – we’ve even been arguing about arguing, and arguing about the tone of our arguments.

“I will put an end to all that nonsense and we will get Brexit done on time by the January 31 – no ifs, no buts, no maybes.”

With such a substantial majority, however, it remains to be seen just what kind of Brexit the Prime Minister will deliver, be it hard or soft.

Some key commitments made to companies following the delivery of Brexit included:

  • To strike what it describes as “the right regulatory balance between supporting excellent business practice and protecting workers, consumers and the environment”
  • To ensure that regulation is sensible and proportionate and that we always consider the needs of small businesses when devising new rules

The high street

With the woes of retailers on the high street often dominating the news cycle throughout 2019, with a number of major high street retailers facing substantial difficulties in the shifting shopping landscape, the Tories promised to cut the burden of tax on business by reducing business rates if elected.

According to the Conservative Manifesto, “this will be done via a fundamental review of the system.”

Pledging to first begin by reducing business rates for retail businesses, the Manifesto did not detail a specific timeframe for the reduction, however, did commit to protecting the high street against what it described as “excessive tax hikes.”

Small businesses

With a considerable number of companies in the industry falling into the SME bracket, the Conservative Manifesto outlined some clear and defined promises for small businesses, many which could have a bearing on companies in the mobility sector.

Some of the particular pledges included:

  • An increase to the Employment Allowance for small businesses
  • To support start-ups and small businesses via government procurement, and commit to paying them on time
  • A clampdown on late payment more broadly and strengthen the powers of the Small Business Commissioner to support small businesses that are exploited by their larger partners
  • An expansion of start-up loans provided by the British Business Bank
  • A review to improve the working of the ‘Apprenticeship Levy’
  • A review and reform of ‘Entrepreneur’s Relief’

Policies on disability

One of the more controversial policies, the Conservative’s have pledged to continue the roll-out of Universal Credit, which combines multiple benefits into one, as well as committing to ending the benefits freeze.

With the disability assessment process coming under fire recently, the new Tory Government has vowed to reduce the number of reassessments a disabled person must go through when a significant change in condition is unlikely.

The Government also guaranteed to publish a National Strategy for Disabled People before the end of 2020, looking at ways to improve the benefits system, opportunities and access for disabled people in terms of housing, education, transport and jobs.

Promising to uphold existing commitments to increase SEND funding and support pupils, students and adults to get careers advice, internships, and transition into work, the promises could mean additional tendering for assistive technology to help reduce the disability gap.

NHS

Perhaps the area that received the most attention during the course of the election campaign was the NHS, which largely became the focus after Brexit.

The Conservatives made a number of pledges in regards to the NHS, which came as some key targets such as A&E waiting times in over October hit record levels.

Arguably the most important information relating to the industry in regards to Conservative pledges for the NHS relates to additional funding, particularly for hospitals, which could see substantial capital expenditure invested in new equipment.

According to the Conservative Manifesto, a returning Tory government would increase the NHS budget to £33.9 billion by 2023-24.

A controversial claim made by the Conservatives during campaigning was the building of 40 new hospitals and upgrading of 20 hospitals.

‍In particular, the Government pledged to provide £850 million for 20 hospital upgrades, £2.7 billion for the first six new hospitals, and seed funding so that work on 34 more can make progress – with many media outlets highlighting that seed funding is not the same as “new hospitals.”

Social Care

All major parties were criticised for not addressing the complex needs of the strained social care system enough during the election, however, the Conservative’s did lay out some key measures to help improve the system.

Highlighting the ageing population, growth in the number of working-age people with disabilities, as well as rising incidences of dementia and other chronic conditions, the Tory manifesto says “we must build the same level of consensus on social care as we have already built on the NHS.”

To that end, the Conservatives pledged to build a cross-party consensus, alongside stating that “one condition we do make is that nobody needing care should be forced to sell their home to pay for it.”

Key social care pledges from the Conservative Government included:

  • Additional funding of £1 billion in every year of the new Parliament
  • An extension of the entitlement to leave for unpaid carers, the majority of whom are women, to one week
  • Making finding a cure to dementia one of the Government’s ‘grand challenges’ – putting it at the same level of priority as climate change
  • A doubling of research funding into dementia and speeding up trials for new treatments
  • £74 million over three years for additional capacity in community care settings for those with learning disabilities and autism

Employment

Ahead of the General Election, the Conservative Government made headlines by promising a substantial increase in the National Living Wage, promising to raise the amount to two-thirds of average earnings, currently forecast at £10.50 an hour, as well as widening its reach to everyone over 21.

For employers potentially paying the current rate of minimum wage in the country, this could represent a considerable rise in overheads. Earlier in the year, TPG DisableAids’ Managing Director Alastair Gibbs shared his thoughts on the policy.

Importantly, the Government made a pledge not to raise the rates of income tax, National Insurance or VAT across the next Parliament.

Housing

With the ‘hidden housing crisis’ receiving significant attention during the lead up to the election, including the creation of Housing Made for Everyone (HoME) coalition, the lack of appropriate housing for disabled and elderly individuals was only lightly addressed by the Conservatives.

In the manifesto, its “Homes for the Future” pledge committed to encouraging “innovative design and technology to make housing more affordable, accessible, and suitable for disabled people and an ageing population.”

With nothing concrete in the way of commitment to the number of new accessible and affordable housing to be built, or a change to mandatory building regulations as called for by the coalition, it is likely that third sector organisations will continue to sustain the pressure going into the new parliament.

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https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Boris-Johnson-PM-Conservatives.jpg?fit=900%2C716&ssl=1https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Boris-Johnson-PM-Conservatives.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Calvin BarnettGovernment & LegislationHousingInvestments & FundingNewsroomNHSSector NewsBoris Johnson,Brexit,business rates,Conservatives,disability policies,employment,General Election,High Street,housing,NHS,Prime Minister,small business,SME,social care,tax,taxation,ToriesHaving secured a resounding victory in the 2019 General Election, wrenching seats away from the Labour party in its heartland, THIIS looks back over the Conservative pledges and what effect they could have on the mobility industry. After weeks of campaigning, Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has won one of the...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals