Election 2010: How Business Leaders Will Vote

Last Updated Apr 29, 2010 8:24 AM EDT

As general elections go, this one is fuelling more debate than any in recent history.

The broader issues of jobs, immigration, education, health, and the economy affect everyone to a certain degree.

But for leaders and managers following the policies of all three main parties with an eye on their potential impact post-election, the devil is in the manifesto detail.

We spoke to four business leaders to find out what matters most to each.

1. The entrepreneur investor
2. The public sector HR director
3. The manufacturer and exporter
4. The services entrepreneur

The entrepreneur investor

Simon Dolan is founder and managing director of SJD Accountancy, which has eight offices nationwide and employs over 200 people. He's also a business angel and has invested in a number of start ups that pitched their ideas to him via Twitter.

Key policies
Support for enterprise and new business start ups

  • Lab: set up a regional growth fund, established by Regional Development Agencies, and continue the HMRC 'Time to Pay' scheme.
  • Con: Support would-be entrepreneurs through a new programme, Work for Yourself, which will give unemployed people direct access to business mentors and substantial loans.
  • LibDem: Enterprise investment focus is on green technology start ups, growth and jobs.
Dolan's view: "All three parties talk about supporting enterprise, but the Conservatives have the best policies for new business. I'd like to see them offer tax and National Insurance breaks for new start ups and those taking on staff." [Shadow Chancellor George Osborne subsquently promised to cut NI for businesses begun within two years of a Tory government and employing up to 10 people.]

Regulation

  • Lab: Continue to simplify regulation and cut red tape.
  • Con: Introduce regulatory budgets, forcing any government body wanting to introduce a new regulation to reduce regulation elsewhere by a greater amount, with scope for worst regulations to be repealed.
  • LibDem: Similar to Conservatives.
"The employment of staff has become a legal minefield. There's so much regulation when you are recruiting people, and if problems arise and you have to discipline or dismiss someone, the dangers are unlimited. The laws are far too skewed towards the rights of the employee. I would welcome any moves to change that."

Pension contributions

  • Lab: Support for automatic enrolment in occupational pensions and new personal pension accounts, with everyone in work entitled to matched contributions from employers and government.
  • Con: May scrap the new national pension scheme, but pledged to 'reinvigorate occupational pensions' and support auto-enrolment.
  • LibDem: No firm policy on occupational pension schemes and employer contributions.
"The higher the compulsory employer pension contributions, the more effect they have in terms of reducing wages and increasing prices - the money to fund them has to come from somewhere. It will probably deter companies from taking more people on."

Impact on voting intentions "All I can go off are past performances, because I believe that history always repeats itself, and ultimately, the Conservatives will perform better for business than Labour," says Dolan.

The public sector HR director
The manufacturer and exporter
The services entrepreneur