Election 2017

General election 2017: Lib Dems promise £100-a-week for entrepreneurs' living costs

Tim Farron Image copyright PA
Image caption The Lib Dem leader met engineering students in Bath as he launched the Lib Dems' entrepreneurs' allowance policy

The Lib Dems are promising budding entrepreneurs a £100-a-week allowance to help with living costs as part of their election offer for businesses.

Those starting an enterprise would get help under the scheme for the first six months, up to a maximum of £2,600.

Launching his business proposals, leader Tim Farron claimed other parties cut tax for multinationals but he is on the side of small businesses.

He also promised to review business rates and access to credit and loans.

The start-up allowance scheme, costing £146m over five years, is one of a number of announcements aimed at differentiating the Lib Dems from Labour and the Conservatives.

The party's manifesto, to be published on Wednesday, is expected to include a raft of proposals aimed at younger voters - whose future the Lib Dems say is being put in doubt by the decision to leave the EU.

Speaking during a visit to Bath on Tuesday, Mr Farron suggested that by pursuing a so-called "hard Brexit", which is likely to see the UK leave the EU's single market and customs union, the Conservatives have "lost the right" to call themselves the party of business.

"Unlike Labour and the Conservatives, we would stay in the single market," he said. "The Conservatives have lost the right to call themselves the party of business. The Liberal Democrats are now."

"While the Conservatives focus on giving tax cuts to giant corporations, our focus is on small businesses seeking to grow."

A Lib Dem government would expand the state-owned British Business Bank to make it easier for firms to borrow. It would also review the system of business rates in England and Wales, whose revaluation earlier this year angered many businesses which were left facing bill rises of more than £1,000.

"Many firms are struggling to borrow to invest and that is suffocating an economy being propped up on consumer spending," Mr Farron argued.

The party has already said it wants to do more to encourage shared parenting and promote work-life balance by offering new fathers an extra month of paid paternity leave.

On Monday, the Lib Dems outlined plans to abolish the pay cap on the public sector, which limits pay rises for staff in schools and hospitals to 1% per year until 2020, and to boost spending on policing.

It has also pledged to spend £2bn on flood defence schemes, focused on reducing upstream flooding and the knock-on effects on downstream and coastal areas.

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