Photographs of Richard Baker, Peter Cooper, Laurie Trounce, Robin Koolhaven, Duncan Tilney and Tom Laws

With the country about to go to the polls, thoughts turn to the potential policies and plans of the next government, and what they might mean for businesses and individuals.

As Managing Partner, Richard Baker has helped see Stephens Scown achieve B Corp™ Certification and played a key role in the firm’s growth to becoming a leading regional law firm and an award-winning South West heavyweight. With a strategic focus on improving performance to enable the delivery of outstanding client service, thoughts naturally have turned to how the firm can support its clients through the change that will undoubtedly follow the election of a new UK government.

Speaking ahead of this week’s election, Richard said, “even before becoming Managing Partner, I’ve seen how Stephens Scown work with businesses and individuals to develop their growth ambitions. Supporting clients through any changes in legislation over the coming months and years, the firm will continue to provide the excellent customer service with which it has become synonymous.

“Some of our key legal advisors have shared their thoughts with me on what might happen, what the parties are saying, and how Stephens Scown will stay on top of the details to help clients both now and in the future.


Peter Cooper, Partner in the Real Estate team and head of the Energy subsector, hopes that the next government will facilitate onshore wind projects by reversing the Conservative planning policy from 2015.

He’s also hopeful that there will be largescale investment in renewable energy more generally, alongside research and development funding for carbon capture and storage, plus the cessation of the grant of more oil and gas extraction licences.

As for what changes are expected, Peter believes that too much is uncertain. It remains to be seen and is dependent on what sort of money is available.

Either way, he is confident that whatever the outcome and whatever gets implemented, there will continue to be more work for the Energy team to support clients with their ambitions.


The business sector will be keen to see economic growth made a priority from whoever is in charge. Laurie Trounce, Partner in the Corporate team said, “I think we would like to see support for SMEs, no increases in Corporation Tax, and a move towards incentives to drive sustainability and purposeful business.”

With both main parties keen to keep businesses happy, Laurie added, “the positive news is that Corporation Tax is unlikely to increase this year, regardless of the election outcome.”

Labour’s plans include an expected change to VAT on school fees, though they have yet to detail their stance on VAT regulations for other businesses, including the VAT registration threshold. On the school fees issue, fellow Partner Robin Koolhoven has said that one possible result of the plan is, “if 10% of parents say they cannot afford the fees, then there would be circa 60,000 students to come into state education and no places to accommodate them.”

The Conservative’s don’t plan to raise VAT or national insurance, with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt suggesting a longer-term goal to abolish national insurance entirely.

For individuals, the Conservatives plan to avoid raising income tax, and in fact aim to cut it. Labour has talked about taking the lowest paid out of the taxation net, will this see an increase in the personal allowance and employee national insurance contribution rates to facilitate that? They have also committed to reforming ‘non-dom’ taxation, and suggested harsher penalties for ‘tax dodgers’, with more funding given to HMRC to tackle the issue and a possible rise in penalties for those caught.


All parties are promising to make housing a core part of their tenure, with varying commitments to affordable housing as part of that, but the truth is that it is exceptionally rare for the state to deliver directly any housing at any scale.

Duncan Tilney, Partner in the Planning team, said, “the Labour party has indicated a preference for changing national policy rather than waiting for local authorities to change their individual directions of travel through local plans. That is a strategically sound tactic, as national policy can be changed in an instant and without the need for consultation. It is therefore agile but can have the effect of alienating people. How this power will be deployed will matter hugely.

“The standard planning answer of ‘it depends’ is likely to echo round the halls in the immediate aftermath of the election, regardless of who wins. More is promised by almost every party than any of them could hope to deliver; the exception is Reform, which has promised so little that if a single house was granted planning permission after it came to power it could claim that as proof of a successful planning strategy.”


The impact on workers of any new government has also been a focus for each of the main parties.

Tom Laws from the Employment team said, “Labour have promised significant and immediate reforms to employment law, largely centring around the rights of employees. Their manifesto on employment law has outlined that they will look to ‘hit the ground running’ and begin making changes within 100 days of entering office.”

Some of their proposals include:

  • Banning ‘exploitative’ zero hours contracts, aiming to provide a baseline level of security for employees and ending ‘one sided’ flexibility.
  • The end of ‘fire and rehire’.
  • More flexible working arrangement the default position, although how they will implement this is unclear.
  • The ability to claim certain employment rights from day one of employment.

Tom adds, “it’s worth noting that, despite Labour’s promise for rapid reform, it’s likely that these changes will take months, or even years, to pass into law and be regulated.

“The Conservative party manifesto has, by comparison, very little by way of significant employment reforms, but rather aims to continue their ongoing work.”

That ongoing work covers areas such as:

  • Changing how ‘fit notes’ work, moving responsibility from GPs in favour or more employment specialised, healthcare professionals.
  • Implementing a minimum service level agreement with regards to strike action.
  • Reducing employees’ national insurance contributions to 6% from 2027.
  • Abolishing self-employed national insurance altogether by the end of the next parliament.

Finally, some of the Liberal Democrat proposals include:

  • Establishing a new ‘dependent contractor’ status with certain minimum entitlements to basic rights, which sounds very much like the current ‘worker’ status.
  • Changing the burden of proof requirement in employment tribunals for employment status, so rather than having an employee proving it, the employer must disprove this.
  • A right for employees to request shares for listed companies with more than 250 employees.
  • Increasing statutory maternity and paternity pay to £350 per week.

Richard added, “Whatever the outcome of the election, it’s clear that our teams are on top of party commitments and ready to continue supporting businesses and individuals, guiding them through whatever comes next. I look forward to our continued commitment to customer excellence, and to working with our clients as their trusted advisors.”