01 Jul 2024

Election 2024: What does the Conservative Party’s manifesto mean for businesses?


The final report of the Business Commission West Midlands (BCWM) was launched on 19 March, and features 32 recommendations for national government, alongside further recommendations for local and regional stakeholders.

With a general election to take place on 4 July, this blog summarises the Conservative and Unionist (Conservative) Party’s manifesto for 2024. It will outline the key themes of the manifesto and what some of the main points mean for businesses.

About the Business Commission West Midlands 

The BCWM provides a roadmap for unlocking business growth across the region. The Commission has been delivered by the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s Insight & Intelligence Unit, in partnership with the Black Country and Coventry & Warwickshire Chambers of Commerce. 

Between October and November 2023, over 130 organisations participated in the evidence hearing stage of the Commission and a further 400 local businesses were surveyed as part of the evidence base for the Roadmap for Growth. Following the publication of this Roadmap, the Chambers are now working with stakeholders and partners to make the Commission’s recommendations a reality as well as directly supporting businesses in embracing the opportunities and overcoming the challenges identified. 

For more information about the BCWM, please click here.  

The Conservative Party’s Manifesto Pledges

Fiscal Plan

In the next parliament, the Conservative Party state that they will continue to meet their fiscal rules of having public sector net debt falling and for public sector net borrowing to be below 3% of GDP in the fifth year of the forecast.

Levelling Up

The Conservative Party manifesto restates the Party’s commitments to ‘Levelling up,’ and outlines a number of commitments intended to ‘strengthen communities,’ including pledges to:

  • Provide 105 towns in the UK with a £20 million endowment fund for use on local priorities such as reviving high streets or bringing new housing to town centres.
  • Extend the Community Ownership Fund to help more communities across the UK take control of community assets such as pubs, music venues, libraries, green spaces, leisure centres and more.
  • Extend the UK Shared Prosperity Fund for three years at the next Spending Review, before using this funding to support UK-wide National Service.
  • Create more Freeports and Business Rates Retention zones
  • Continue supporting Investment Zones across the country, providing areas with £160 million to catalyse local growth and investment
  • Change planning laws to support places to bring back local market days and regenerate defunct shopping centres, continue to make industry pay for removing chewing-gum from streets and raise the fines utility firms must pay when they create ‘street scars’ by not properly restoring roads and pavements after their works are completed.
  • Empower communities through devolution and new powers - stating that by 2030, every part of England that wants one will have a devolution deal.

The manifesto also states that the Party would seek to protect residents from ‘excessive’ council tax rises by ensuring that local people have the final say on council tax and banning the ‘four-day working week’ in local authorities. The Conservative Party would additionally look to improve standards in councils by making their performance more transparent through the Office for Local Government.

Business Taxation

The Conservative Party manifesto sets out plans to extend full expensing to leasing, once fiscal conditions allow, and to not raise corporation tax. Further, the manifesto outlines a ten-point plan to support small and medium-sized enterprises in the next parliament, stating that the Conservatives would:

  1. Ease the burden of business rates for high street, leisure and hospitality businesses by increasing the multiplier on distribution warehouses that support online shopping over time.
  2. Keep the VAT threshold under review and explore options to smooth the cliff edge at £90,000.
  3. Improve access to finance for SMEs including through expanding Open Finance and by exploring the creation of Regional Mutual Banks. 
  4. Lift the employee threshold, allowing more companies to be considered medium-sized for reporting purposes.
  5. Retain key tax incentives designed to encourage small businesses to grow, including the Enterprise Investment Scheme, Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme, Venture Capital Trusts, Business Asset Disposal Relief, Agricultural Property Relief and Business Relief.
  6. Promote digital invoicing and improve enforcement of the Prompt Payment Code.
  7. Ensure that Basel III capital requirements do not inhibit lending to SMEs.
  8. Continue programmes including the Invest in Women Task Force and the Lilac Review to encourage more female and disabled entrepreneurs.
  9. Work with the British Business Bank and private sector fund managers to secure a £250 million ‘Invest In Women Fund’ to support female entrepreneurs.
  10. Work with public sector organisations including local authorities and NHS trusts and companies benefitting from government contracts to ensure that procurement opportunities are focused on SMEs in their local economies where possible and practical.

EU Law and Brexit Pubs Guarantee

The Conservative Party also commit in the manifesto to repeal or reform over half of EU laws by July 2026 and to maintain the Brexit Pubs Guarantee.

Skills and Employment


The Conservative Party set out intentions to provide working parents with 30 hours of free childcare a week from when their child is nine months old to when they start school, and to reform Child Benefits by moving to a household system, so families don’t start losing Child Benefits until the household income reaches £120,000 per year.

Additionally, a Conservative government would seek to deliver a Family Hub in every local authority in England to support families until children reach adulthood, and to improve the experiences of children in social care. The Party commit to support those leaving care with housing, education and employment, in addition to expanding befriending and mentoring programmes for care leavers.


The Conservative Party manifesto pledges to fund 100,000 more apprenticeships for young people in England every year by the end of the next parliament, paid for by reducing the number of university degrees they deem to be of ‘poor quality,’ and to introduce an ‘Advanced British Standard,’ intended to enable young people to receive a broader education and remove a divide between academic and technical learning.

The manifesto also outlines plans to attract more teachers to schools and further education colleges, expand strong academy trusts and deliver 60,000 more school places and a 15 further new free schools for children with special educational needs.

The Party additionally restates commitments to support the National Citizen Service and deliver the Lifelong Learning Entitlement, which from the 2025 academic year, would allow adults to apply for loans to cover new qualifications. The Conservative manifesto also pledges to continue expansion of adult skills programmes such as Skills Bootcamps.

National Service

The manifesto also sets out plans to introduce mandatory national service for all school leavers at 18, intended to provide young people with new skills and opportunities. The Party state that young people would be given a choice between:

  • Civic service: the equivalent of one weekend a month (25 days a year) volunteering in the community, alongside work or study for a year; or
  • Military service: a year-long full time placement in the armed forces or cyber defence. The Party anticipates this placement being competitive and paid, with the intention to support the armed forces in recruiting the best new talent.

The manifesto states that a Royal Commission would be established to design this National Service, which would be backed by funding rising to £2.5 billion in the final year of the next parliament and a new National Service Act.


The Conservative Party manifesto makes a number of pledges to support Veterans, which include:

  • Retaining the National Insurance holiday for those who employ veterans.
  • Bringing forward measures so that War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme awards are not counted as income for the purpose of benefits and pensions.
  • Extending the visa fees waiver introduced to cover Commonwealth personnel, to include their direct dependants.
  • Passing a Veterans’ Bill to enshrine Veterans’ rights in law, which would (among other things) seek to ensure qualifications from Service are correctly recognised in civilian life.

Welfare Reforms

The Conservative Party manifesto sets out a commitment to reform the welfare system with the stated intention of ‘making it fairer and more sustainable, giving everyone who can the best possible chance of returning to work, while providing the right support to those who need it.’

To deliver this, the manifesto outlines to two-pronged approach. First, to address what the manifesto describes as an ‘unsustainable’ rise in benefit claims for people of working age with a disability or health condition, the Conservative Party would:

  • Reform disability benefits with the intention of making them better targeted and reflective of people’s genuine needs, while delivering a step-change in mental health provision.
  • Change assessments from September 2025 to “tighten up” how the benefits system assesses capability for work.
  • Design a new system which moves the responsibility for issuing fit notes away from GPs towards specialist work and health professionals, and test integrating this with a new WorkWell service to provide tailored support to help people stay in or get back to work.

Second, the manifesto states that ‘to make sure being on benefits remains a safety net, not a lifestyle choice’ the Party would:

  • Introduce tougher sanctions rules so people who refuse to take up jobs considered suitable for them after 12 months on benefits could have their cases closed and their benefits removed entirely.
  • Move all of those remaining on legacy benefits onto Universal Credit, removing perceived disincentives for them to work and ensuring they will be better off in work.
  • Maintain a zero-tolerance approach to fraud, including implementing a new Fraud Bill intended to give DWP powers similar to that of HMRC to identify, investigate and pursue fraudsters.

The Conservative Party state that they would continue to support carers.

The manifesto additionally states that the Party would reform the Child Maintenance Service to prevent non-compliance and introduce new laws intended to help crack down on non-payment, as well as looking at how the service can better support victims of domestic or economic abuse, building on recommendations from Dr Samantha Callan’s 2023 Independent Review.


In addition to a series of pledges to ‘stop the boats,’ the Conservative Party manifesto makes a number of additional pledges regarding overall migration. These include:

  • Introducing a binding, legal cap on migration, set on work and family visas, the level of which would be voted on annually, but ultimately fall each year of the next Parliament.
  • Raising the Skilled Worker threshold and Family income requirement with inflation automatically.
  • Requiring migrants to undergo a health check in advance of travel and increasing their Immigration Health Surcharge or requiring them to purchase health insurance if they are perceived as ‘likely to be a burden on the NHS’.
  • Increasing all visa fees and removing the student discount to the Immigration Health Surcharge to raise more money for public services.

The Party state that they would seek to continue to attract the brightest and best students to study in UK institutions, continue delivery of the Windrush Compensation Scheme and remain committed to the EU Settled Status Scheme and the rights it has guaranteed for EU citizens.

Equality of Opportunity

The Conservative Party manifesto states a commitment to promoting equality of opportunity. The manifesto sets out an ambition to make the UK the most accessible place in the world for people with disabilities to live, work and thrive, and pledges that in the next parliament, the Conservative Party would improve support for people who have guide or assistance dogs and explore bidding to host and deliver the 2031 Special Olympics World Summer Games. The Party also states that should they be elected, they would continue to deliver for LGBT individuals.

Income and Personal Taxation


The Conservative manifesto pledges to maintain the National Living Wage in each year of the next Parliament at two-thirds of median earnings. On current forecasts, it is estimated that this would mean it rising to around £13 per hour.

The manifesto also commits to ensuring the UK retains the flexibility and dynamism of the current labour market.

Personal Taxation

The Conservative Party manifesto commits to:

  • Reducing employee National Insurance by a further 2p to 6% by April 2027 – and abolishing National Insurance entirely when it is affordable to do so;
  • Abolishing the main rate of self-employed National Insurance by the end of the next parliament; and
  • Not increasing Capital Gains Tax.

The manifesto specifies that the abolition of the main rate of Class 4 National Insurance contributions for self-employed individuals will not affect their entitlement to the State Pension.

Further, the Conservative Party commit to not raise the rate of income tax or VAT, and states plans to introduce a ‘triple lock plus’ on pensions, continuing to uprate the State Pension in line with the highest of prices, earnings or 2.5%, and ensuring that from 2025 the tax-free personal allowance for pensioners rises by the same, guaranteeing that the state pension is always below the tax-free threshold. The Party’s ‘Pensions Tax Guarantee’ also commits to not introducing any new taxes on pensions.

The manifesto additionally pledges to raise “at least” a further £6 billion a year from tackling tax avoidance and evasion by the end of the next Parliament.


The Conservative manifesto outlines plans to deliver 1.6 million new, ‘well-designed’ homes while protecting the countryside, to permanently abolish Stamp Duty for homes up to £425,000 for first time buyers and to introduce a new Help to Buy scheme.

Specific commitments on house building include:

  • Delivering a record number of homes each year on brownfield land in urban areas by providing a fast-track route through the planning system for new homes on previously developed land in the 20 largest cities, and looking at extending ‘full expensing’ to the delivery of brownfield housing.
  • Raising density levels in inner London to those of European cities such as Paris and Barcelona.
  • Unlocking new urban regeneration schemes, by creating locally-led urban development corporations in partnership with the private sector and institutional investors.
  • Supporting local and smaller builders by requiring councils to set land aside for them and lifting Section 106 burdens on more smaller sites.
  • Making sure local authorities use their Infrastructure Levy to deliver the GP surgeries, roads and other local infrastructure needed to support homes.
  • Renewing the Affordable Homes Programme that will deliver homes of all tenures and focus on regenerating and improving housing estates.

Commitments by the Conservative Party to renters and landlords include:

  • Introducing a two-year temporary Capital Gains Tax relief for landlords who sell to their existing tenants.
  • Completing the process of leasehold reform, capping ground rents at £250 and reducing them over time, ending misuse of forfeiture and making it easier to take up commonhold.
  • Passing a Renters Reform Bill intended to deliver fairness in the rental market for landlords and renters alike, and delivering the court reforms necessary to strengthen grounds for landlords to evict private tenants guilty of anti-social behaviour.
  • Continuing support for leaseholders affected by historic building safety problems by requiring the continuation of developer-funded remediation programmes for mid- and high-rise buildings.


Transport Infrastructure

The Party commit in their manifesto to invest £36 billion in local roads, rail and busses with the intention of driving regional growth, including £8.3 billion to fill potholes and resurface roads, funded through the cancellation of HS2 phase 2. Specifically, the manifesto states that of the £36 billion of HS2 savings the Party expects to spend on alternative transport projects, every penny saved in the North or Midlands will be spent there.

The Party state that if elected, they would:

  • Invest £4.7 billion for smaller cities, towns and rural areas in the North and Midlands to spend on their transport priorities.
  • Provide city regions with an additional £8.55 billion to spend on local priorities and remove rules that stop Mayors investing in strategic roads.
  • Deliver on the plan for Northern Powerhouse Rail, intended to bring more frequent trains, more capacity and faster journeys.
  • Boost rail connectivity in the Midlands, with £1.75 billion to fund the Midlands Rail Hub in full, with the expectation that this will improve journey times and deliver more frequent rail services at 50 stations, benefiting over seven million people, as well as upgrading the line between Newark and Nottingham to halve journey times between Nottingham and Leeds.
  • Provide an additional £1 billion to support hundreds of new bus routes across the North and Midlands.
  • Improve accessibility at 100 train stations.
  • Honour commitments to the schemes set out in the Network North Command Paper.
  • Extend the £2 bus fare cap in England for the entirety of the next Parliament.
  • Give councils the power to ban pavement parking, provided they engage with businesses and residents to ensure they are not adversely affected.
  • Roll out mobile pay as you go contactless rail tickets nationwide.
  • Work with Active Travel England to make it safer for people to walk or cycle, including projects like ensuring safe walking routes to schools and measures to protect pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

Additionally, the Conservative Party pledge to stop road pricing and apply local referendums to new 20mph zones and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

Further, the Party intend to support people to choose electric cars by ensuring charging infrastructure is truly nationwide, including rapid charging, and deliver a Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate intended to support manufacturers to safeguard skilled British jobs.

In regard to the growth and decarbonisation of the aviation sector, the Party state plans to support British Sustainable Aviation Fuel and support domestic flights including through Public Service Obligations, intending to protect vital routes within the UK, including to islands and remote areas.

The Party also outline plans to support the decarbonisation of the maritime sector, including shipping and ports, and foster science and innovation expertise in the space industry.

Digital Infrastructure

To date, the manifesto states that the Conservative Party has enabled the rollout of gigabit broadband to over a million hard to reach premises, helping to deliver high-speed internet to over 80% of the country. The manifesto estimates that this initiative is set to achieve at least 85% gigabit coverage of the UK by 2025 and nationwide coverage by 2030 and states an ambition for all populated areas to be covered by ‘standalone’ 5G mobile connectivity and to keep the UK at the forefront of adopting and developing 6G.

Speeding Up Infrastructure Delivery

The Conservative Party manifesto states an ambition to reduce the average time it takes to sign off major infrastructure projects from four years to one by:

  • Introducing reforms to EU regimes.
  • Ensuring that the requirements to offset the impact of new infrastructure and homes on an area are proportionate, without compromising on environmental outcomes.
  • Reducing the cost of infrastructure by allowing quicker changes to consented projects.
  • Ensuring National Policy Statements are regularly updated.
  • Focusing the role of statutory consultees in the planning system on improving projects in line with clearer objectives, rather than piecemeal requirements that add delays.
  • Amending the law so judicial reviews considered to not have merit do not waste court time.


In the next parliament, the Conservative manifesto outlines plans to:

  • Increase public spending on R&D to £22 billion a year (up from £20 billion this year).
  • Maintain current R&D tax reliefs.
  • Continue investing over £1.5 billion in large-scale compute clusters, assembling raw processing power with the intention to take advantage of the potential of AI and support research into its safe and responsible use.
  • Push forward with the Advanced Manufacturing Plan, providing a £4.5 billion commitment to secure strategic manufacturing sectors including automotive, aerospace, life sciences and clean energy.
  • Build on the success of the nine specialist Catapults, which support innovation and de-risk the transition from research and delivery, distributing £1.6 billion of funding across the country by 2028.

Further, in regards to the Financial sector, the Party pledge to build on the policies set out in the Edinburgh Reforms, support the City of London’s position as the leading global market through the implementation of the Mansion House reforms and measures such as a retail sale of NatWest shares and maintain standards of consumer protection and prudential regulation to ensure there can never be a repeat of the 2008 banking crisis.

The manifesto also commits to support Britain’s automotive industry amid global competition in the electric vehicles market, and states that the Party is prepared to support domestic car manufacturers if there is evidence other countries are breaking global trade rules.

Defence Spending

Key defence pledges for businesses include a Conservative Party commitment to provide multi-year certainty for the production of defence equipment, with at least £10 billion of investment in munitions production, the majority of which the Party expect would be spent in the UK over the next decade. The Party commits to building long-term strategic partnerships with industrial partners and investing in British defence industry jobs across the UK.

As part of their proposed investment in defence, the Conservative Party commits to prioritising growth in UK industries and supporting communities across the UK, delivering an ‘Integrated Procurement Model’ intended to make defence procurement faster, smarter and more joined up and boost private sector investment, as well as setting a new target to make the UK the largest defence exporter in Europe by 2030.

Net Zero

The Conservative manifesto guarantees no new green levies or charges for consumers while accelerating the rollout of renewables.

Further, in regards to Net Zero, the Conservative manifesto states that the Party will:

  • Maintain the existing windfall tax on oil and gas companies until 2028-29 unless prices fall ‘back to normal’ sooner.
  • Maintain the investment allowances that provide incentives to invest in the North Sea.
  • Set up new gas power stations to maintain a safe and reliable energy source for days when the weather doesn’t power up renewables.
  • Treble offshore wind capacity.
  • Build the first two carbon capture and storage clusters, based across North Wales and, the North West of England and Teesside and the Humber, and progress the second tranche of projects in Aberdeenshire and the Humber.
  • Invest £1.1 billion into the Green Industries Growth Accelerator to support British manufacturing capabilities, boost supply chains and ensure the energy transition is made in Britain.
  • Scale up nuclear power, approving two new fleets of Small Modular Reactors within the first 100 days of the next Parliament, and halving the time it takes for new nuclear reactors to be approved.
  • implement a new import carbon pricing mechanism by 2027 to ensure that imports of iron, steel, aluminium, ceramics and cement from countries with a lower or no carbon price will face a comparable carbon price to those goods produced in the UK.

International Trade

The Conservative Party also pledge to sign further trade deals, intended to speed up the development of infrastructure and homes, cut red tape for businesses and create new fishing opportunities.

These include the completion of free trade agreements with India and with the Gulf Cooperation Council and the continued pursual of further free trade agreements with countries such as Israel and Switzerland. Additionally, the Party intends to build on the existing Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU, but not agree to anything in the forthcoming review which would infringe on Britian’s legal sovereignty or involve submission to the Court of Justice of the European Union or dynamic alignment. The manifesto states that the Conservative Party would ‘take a tough approach’ on ensuring that the EU are meeting their commitments under the TCA and not discriminating against British exporters.

The Party also state intentions to agree a free trade agreement with the United States when the US is ready to do so.

Sector Specific Support

Support for Farmers and Fisheries

The Conservative Party set out a series of commitments intended to support farmers and fisheries in the manifesto, including a pledge to increase the UK-wide farming budget by £1 billion over the Parliament, ensuring it rises by inflation in every year. Further, they would seek to influence public sector procurement to meet a goal that at least 50% of food expenditure is spent on food produced locally or to higher environmental production standards.

The Party also states an intention to support the agricultural sector with the labour it needs to maintain food security, while moving away from the reliance on seasonal migrant labour with a five-year visa tapered scheme, alongside clear investment in automation and promoting agri-food careers and skills.

Support for Sport and the Creative Sector

The Conservative Party manifesto outlines plans to support sport in the UK through the continuation of their Multi-Sport Grassroots Facilities Programme, and prioritising equal access for women and girls in an ongoing programme of investment in grassroots sports facilities.

In regards to the creative industries, the manifesto states a belief that apprenticeships are a key pipeline of talent into the UK’s creative industries, and pledges that the Party would work with industry to deliver a dedicated, flexible coordination service intended to ensure that everyone who wants to work in the film, TV, gaming and music sectors could work on live productions whilst benefiting from at least 12 months of secure training.

Further, the Conservative Party commit to ensuring creative sector tax incentives remain competitive and creators are properly protected and remunerated for their work, whilst also making the most of the opportunities of AI and its applications for creativity in the future.

Additionally, the Conservative manifesto sets out plans to launch a review of the nighttime economy in England, looking at how to reverse a decline in pubs and clubs and how to make UK towns and cities ‘great places to go out’.

Read what the BCWM research found in relation to the topics referenced in this manifesto.

Next Steps for the BCWM 

The Business Commission West Midlands Hub is published on the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce website and includes reactions to and comments on the Business Commission West Midlands. The Interim Report, which was published in February 2024 and set out the key thematic challenges related to business growth across the region, is also available on the Hub and the Final Report, published in March 2024, lists over 90 recommendations for local, regional and national stakeholders that would help to unlock growth and prosperity across the region. 

The Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce will use the coming months to engage with local, regional and national political figures and other relevant stakeholders in order to champion and promote the recommendations made in the report. In addition, we will look to undertake deeper dives across the other levers for growth and cross cutting enablers and hold roundtables with relevant regional and national stakeholders. Conducting this exercise will give us a more nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing businesses in these areas and help track progress against the recommendations we have put forward. In March 2025, we will host a formal review in which we will assess which recommendations have been implemented and where further work is required to unlock growth and drive prosperity across the West Midlands. 

Further Information about the 2024 General Election

Find out more about 2024 General Election.

The five political parties with the most candidates standing in the upcoming General Election are listed below (in alphabetical order) with links to their respective manifestos.


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