Manifesto 2019:Tackle Poverty and Inequality - Work - Rewriting the Rules

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Rewriting the Rules

Social justice also means levelling the playing field between small and big business, and ensuring that democracy and accountability are valued across society, including in the private sector.

Businesses are the heartbeat of our economy, creating jobs, wealth and innovations.

But the upper echelons of corporate Britain have been corrupted by a culture in which the long-term health of a company is sacrificed for a quick buck for a few: a short-term culture has seen some treasured companies asset-stripped, leaving workers, small business suppliers and pensioners in the lurch. Too often, the link between reward and long-term performance is broken for short-term greed.

Labour will take on short-termism and corporate greed, making sure good businesses are rewarded, not undercut. We will rewrite the rules of the economy and ensure everyone plays by them.

We will amend the Companies Act, requiring companies to prioritise long-term growth while strengthening protections for stakeholders, including smaller suppliers and pension funds. We will tackle late payments that leave small businesses waiting months to be paid, including banning late payers from public procurement.

For small businesses, we will ensure no quarterly reporting for businesses below the VAT threshold.

We will require one-third of boards to be reserved for elected worker-directors and give them more control over executive pay – because when those who depend on a company have a say in running it, that company generally does better and lasts longer.

We will introduce a broader ‘public interest test’ to prevent hostile takeovers and asset-stripping weakening our industrial base and destroying treasured home-grown companies. And we will give workers a voice on public bodies such as the Competition and Markets Authority.

We will let struggling companies go into protective administration, so they can be sold as a going concern rather than collapsing into insolvency.

Audits are vital to corporate accountability, but the auditing industry is dominated by a few players riddled with conflicts of interest. Labour will separate audit and accounting activities in major firms and impose more robust rules on auditors.

We will tackle regulatory capture and streamline regulation by creating a new Business Commission, responsive to parliamentary select committees.