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What a General Election means for the trade industry

Rhino Trade Insurance 27 June 2024

A general election is more than just a political event; it is a significant moment that can reshape the landscape of various industries, including the trade industry. For tradesmen and women across the UK, the outcomes of a general election can influence everything from tax policies and regulations to funding for apprenticeships and infrastructure projects. Understanding the potential impacts of a general election on the trade industry is crucial for professionals who want to stay ahead in their field.

Understanding the General Election

A general election in the UK is held to elect various Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons. The party that wins the most seats usually forms the next government, with its leader becoming the Prime Minister. This election process, typically occurring every five years, is pivotal as it determines the policies and direction of the country for the next term.

Key Areas of Impact on the Trade Industry

  1. Economic Policies and Tax

One of the most direct impacts of a general election on the trade industry is through economic policies and tax. Different political parties have varying approaches to your tax, public spending, and economic management.

  • Tax Policies: Changes in corporation tax, VAT, and income tax can directly affect the profitability of businesses in the trade industry. A government that opts to increase taxes might squeeze the margins for tradesmen and women, while a government that reduces taxes could leave more money in the pockets of business owners and employees alike.
  • Public Spending: Public investment in infrastructure projects such as roads, schools, and hospitals can create numerous opportunities for tradespeople. A government committed to high public spending can drive demand for construction, plumbing, electrical work, and other trades.
  1. Regulations and Compliance

Trade professionals must navigate a complex landscape of legislation and compliance standards. A general election can bring significant changes in this area.

  • Health and Safety Regulations: New governments might introduce stricter health and safety regulations, impacting how tradespeople conduct their work. Compliance can mean increased costs but also safer working conditions.
  • Environmental Standards: With a growing emphasis on sustainability, parties might implement policies that promote green building practices and the use of eco-friendly materials. This can open new avenues for work but also require upskilling to meet new standards.
  1. Employment and Training

The trade industry relies heavily on skilled labour. Policies affecting employment, apprenticeships, and training can have a profound impact on the sector.

  • Apprenticeships and Skills Training: Governments that prioritise funding for apprenticeships and vocational training can ensure a steady influx of skilled workers into the trade industry. This is crucial for addressing skill shortages and keeping up with industry demands.
  • Job Market Regulations: Changes to employment laws, such as those affecting minimum wage, working hours, and workers' rights, can alter the cost and dynamics of hiring (especially with certain parties talking about the EHCR). This is particularly relevant for small trade businesses that need to manage their costs carefully.
  1. Housing and Infrastructure

Housing policies and infrastructure development are significant drivers of demand in the trade industry.

  • Housing Market: Policies aimed at boosting the housing market, such as incentives for first-time buyers or investments in affordable housing, can lead to increased construction and projects. Tradespeople, including builders, electricians, and plumbers, directly benefit from a thriving housing market.
  • Infrastructure Projects: Major infrastructure projects, such as transportation networks and public facilities, generate substantial work for tradesmen and women. Election outcomes that favour large-scale infrastructure investment can create long-term job opportunities.
  1. Business Support and Financing

Access to financing and business support programs can significantly affect trade businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

  • Loans and Grants: Government-backed loans and grants can provide crucial support for trade businesses looking to expand or invest in new equipment. Policies that facilitate access to finance can help businesses grow and innovate.
  • Support Programs: Initiatives aimed at supporting SMEs, such as tax reliefs or business advisory services, can help trade businesses navigate challenges and seize opportunities.

What Tradesmen and Women Should Watch For

Manifestos and Campaign Promises

During this election campaign, political parties publish their manifestos, outlining their policies and priorities. Tradespeople should pay close attention to these documents, focusing on proposals related to tax, new regs, training, and investment. Understanding these promises can help anticipate potential changes in the industry landscape.

Post-Election Budget Announcements

After a general election, the new government typically presents a budget that details its financial plans. This budget will reveal concrete measures that affect the trade industry, such as tax adjustments, spending on projects, and funding for training programs. Tradesmen and women should stay informed about these announcements to adjust their business strategies accordingly.

Regulation Changes

Elections can result in shifts in regulatory frameworks. Tradespeople need to stay abreast of any new regulations that affect their work, whether related to health and safety, environmental standards, or employment laws. Engaging with industry associations and professional bodies can provide valuable insights and support in navigating these changes.

Economic Indicators

General elections can influence economic confidence and performance. Tradespeople should monitor economic indicators such as GDP growth, employment rates, and consumer confidence. These indicators can provide a sense of the overall economic climate and potential demand for trade services.

Preparing for Potential Changes


Diversification and Flexibility

In an environment of political uncertainty, diversification and flexibility are key. Tradespeople should consider broadening their skill sets and service offerings to remain competitive. For instance, expanding into eco-friendly building practices or renewable energy installations can open new markets and reduce reliance on traditional sectors.

Networking and Professional Development

Building a strong professional network and investing in continuous learning can help tradespeople stay ahead of industry trends and policy changes. Attending industry conferences, joining trade associations, and participating in training programs can provide valuable knowledge and connections.

Financial Planning

Sound financial planning is crucial for navigating potential changes resulting from a general election. Tradespeople should review their financial health, ensure they have sufficient cash reserves, and consider contingency plans for different scenarios. Engaging with financial advisors or business consultants can provide tailored strategies for managing financial risks.

Advocacy and Engagement

Tradespeople can also play an active role in shaping policies that affect their industry (just look at the recent tool theft campaign). Engaging with trade unions, industry associations, and local representatives can amplify their voices and ensure that their concerns are heard by policymakers. Advocacy efforts can lead to more favourable policies and support for the trade industry.

Ensure You Have The Right Insurance 

A general election in the UK is a pivotal event with far-reaching implications for the trade industry. From economic policies and tax to regulations, employment, housing, and business support, the outcomes of an election can reshape the landscape in which tradesmen and women operate. 

With the upcoming election and whoever you vote for, it's best to stay informed, prepare for potential changes, and engage with the political process. Tradespeople can navigate these shifts and continue to thrive in their professions. As the political landscape evolves, so too must the strategies and resilience of those who form the backbone of the trade industry. Make sure you have the right insurance tailored for your business by calling Rhino today: 0116 243 7904. 

About The Author Phil McCormick

Experienced in brand marketing and content. Most of that lovely communication you see online will be from Phil. social media, emails, videos, how to make a bacon sarny? You get the gist!

Trade most identified with: Electrician - It’s our Phil’s job to map out all our communications and make sure the signal works! Also, he’s one of the cockiest blighters in the team so electrician fits perfectly!

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