All their intents and purposes

Matthew Valentine and Clare Dowdy dissect the main Election manifestos for a commitment to design and small businesses

Tory manifesto

The Conservative Party manifesto makes no specific mention of the design industry, but does make a number of promises to small businesses, proposes some changes in employment and training and stresses Conservative intentions to continue down the path to privatisation. All could have implications for designers.

For small businesses the party promises: “We will cut small companies’ rate of corporation tax in line with personal taxation as we move towards a 20p basic rate.” It also says: “We will reform business rates to reduce the cost that falls upon small businesses.” Further simplification of the administration of National Insurance and PAYE contributions is also promised.

Late payment, a problem for many designers, will also be tackled, say the Conservatives: “On top of our programme to ensure government departments and local authorities pay on time we have legislated to require companies to publish their payment policy and to report their record on how quickly they pay small businesses.”

As employers, designers under a future Conservative Government may be offered greater involvement in staff training. “We will… introduce National Traineeships and encourage employers to offer more work-based Modern Apprenticeships to young people,” says the manifesto.

Major corporate identity and livery projects would be created by planned privatisation of the London Underground. The London manifesto (pictured) says: “We will bring forward plans to privatise London Underground. Proceeds from privatisation will be recycled in order to modernise the network within five years.”

The Post Office would also become a prime candidate for perhaps the last really big sell off of a previously nationalised industry. Parcelforce will be transferred to private hands, while the main body of the Post Office will be considered for “different forms of privatisation”.

Labour’s pledge

Labour has come out in support of design and other creative industries as a way of boosting exports and the economy in general in its manifesto. “We support a collaborative approach between researchers and business, spreading the use of new technology and good design, and exploiting our own inventions to boost business in the UK.

“We need to win on higher quality, skill, innovation and reliability,” the document adds. “We must build on the British qualities of inventiveness, creativity and adaptability. We will nurture investment in industry, skills, infrastructure and new tech nologies.”

Economic growth will also be boosted through support for small businesses: “We will cut unnecessary red tape; provide for statutory interest on late payment of debts; improve support for high-tech start-ups; improve the quality and relevance of advice and training through a reformed Business Links network and the University for Industry and assist firms to enter overseas markets more effectively.”

Labour plans to set up regional agencies to help local enterprises: “We will establish one-stop Regional Development Agencies to co-ordinate regional economic development, help small business and encourage inward investment.”

The party also wants to encourage a variety of forms of partnership and enterprise, spreading ownership and encouraging more employees to become owners through Employee Share Ownership Plans and co-operatives.

Labour claims that improvements to education “cannot be funded out of general taxation. Our proposals for funding have been made to the Dearing Committee, in line with successful policies abroad”.

The party supports broader A-levels and upgraded vocational qualifications, underpinned by rigorous standards and key skills.

It is also proposing to set up National Endowment for Science and the Arts – a scheme to sponsor young talent, partly funded by the Lottery.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrat’s manifesto, like the Conservative’s, promises to promote more training in the workplace. To encourage this the party proposes “a 2 per cent remissible levy on company payrolls. This would be deductible against the cost of providing accredited training or making contributions to the

Individual Learning Account. Small businesses will be exempt.”

The party plans to shift taxation by reducing taxes on jobs, wealth and goods and increasing them on sources of pollution and resource depletion. And it makes a commitment to small businesses: “We will encourage the banks to develop new sources of private finance, including grants, equity finance and mutual guarantee schemes.”

Like the Labour Party, the Lib Dems plan regional development agencies “to build new partnerships between small businesses, local councils, Business Links, TECs and local chambers of commerce”.

The arts and media would receive additional Lottery funding under a Liberal Democrat government. “We aim to move towards the European average for funding of the arts,” says the document. It also promises to “ensure that everyone in Britain can have access, either individually or through public access points, to a nationwide interactive communications network by the year 2000.”

Giant jumps on the Prescott Express as Labour’s designers

Giant has been heavily involved in the Labour Party’s literature and promotional material for the General Election.

The consultancy designed the manifesto, the Letter To Britain document – a colour magazine-style precis of the manifesto – and the business manifesto, which will be launched today.

Giant was also responsible for credit card-sized pledge cards, which are inscribed with the party’s five promises and are being handed out to voters.

Graphics for the Prescott Express campaign bus were Giant’s work and the consultancy has staff working at Millbank, Labour’s campaign centre.

Johnson Banks handled some merchandising being sold in Labour’s newly-opened merchandising shop at Millbank.

Latest articles