Voting for one of the most important general elections of recent years is underway.
The Prime Minister, Theresa May, is a firm favourite to defeat Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, with various polls pointing to a Conservative victory despite a seven-week election campaign that has seen the fortunes of both leaders swing one way and then the other.
Polling stations opened at 7am this morning and will close at 10pm, with the first results expected little over an hour later.
All party leaders have now cast their votes in their respective constituencies. Mrs May said little to the waiting press, in contrast to Mr Corbyn, who describe it as “a day of our democracy.”
“Thank you very much, all of you, for coming here today. It’s a day for our democracy. I’ve just voted. I’m very proud of our campaign. Thank you very much.”
It goes without saying that any election is important, but this is certainly the case for businesses up and down the country, as each manifesto will offer different promises, each affecting businesses and sectors differently from the other.
Housing is a particularly important issue. Activity in housebuilding is on the rise but with a shortage of new homes in the country, it is something that politicians have focused on.
The Conservatives have pledged to build one million homes by the end of 2020, with a further 500,000 in the two years after.
Labour meanwhile have promised to build at least 100,000 council and housing association homes each year, while the SNP will continue their existing policy that means Scotland boast the highest housebuilding rate in the UK.
The Liberal Democrats have a target of building 300,000 new homes each year.
It’s fair to say that all parties are offering pledges that will give the construction industry a healthy order book.
For transport, more development opportunities are pledged. Improvements are needed on the transport network and as such, the Conservatives say they will spend £40 billion across the network before the decade is out.
Heathrow Airport’s new runway has been approved, which hasn’t been without its detractors. However, the Conservatives will push ahead with the expansion.
For business owners, the plans on economy and tax will be of particular interest. Labour have focused their plans on the majority of people, by promising no change in personal National Insurance or VAT.
The key point is their plans for corporation tax, which will rise to 26% by 2020/21. It’s in direct contrast to the Conservatives. They want to cut the corporation tax levels further. As it stands, the rate will be 17% in 2020.
Tim Farron’s Liberal Democrats plan to reverse some of the corporation tax cuts while also borrowing £100 billion to invest in infrastructure, broadband, housebuilding, schools, hospitals and transport.
The plans put forward for the Brexit negotiations and immigration could all have wider consequences for businesses in a variety of sector, depending on how they affect access to skilled workers.
All of these issues will influence decisions of voters across the UK throughout today.
We don’t have to wait long to see who gets the opportunity to implement their respective vision.