19. What steps he plans to take to reduce costs for small businesses. (76883)
In these rosy days, in addition to extending small business rate relief and reversing Labour’s planned rise in payroll taxes, we also intend to reduce the burden of financial accounting rules. That will save businesses up to £600 million, a third of which will benefit small and medium-sized enterprises.
At a time when many small businesses are struggling to thrive in the economic climate, will my hon. Friend join the campaign of Harlow chamber of commerce and the Essex Federation of Small Businesses strongly to oppose the proposals of the Health and Safety Executive to charge £750-plus to inspect small businesses?
I am very much aware of the consultation that the agency is undertaking on fees and other proposals, and I understand the concerns that my hon. Friend voices. Any fees, any proposals, need to be proportionate and reasonable.
Many small businesses in the construction sector would benefit from a cut in VAT to 5%, as has been raised. We heard the Minister’s response; he thinks we are wrong in calling for that. If he thinks we are wrong, does he think the Federation of Master Builders, the Builders Merchants Federation, British Precast and the Modern Masonry Alliance are wrong as well?
The Labour party thought those organisations were wrong when it was in office. The party needs to realise that it cannot do one thing in government and say another in opposition. [Interruption.] That is its record.