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Budget (Businesses)

Volume 580: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2014

1. What assessment he has made of the potential effects of the measures in the 2014 Budget on businesses in Wales. (903928)

The Budget represents the next step in our long-term economic plan with a package of measures to deliver economic security for businesses and people in Wales and across the UK.

I hope that this is not too difficult a question for my right hon. Friend, but does he agree with my Welsh relatives that the best way to help businesses is to reduce taxation?

My hon. Friend is entirely right, which is why we have reduced the rate of corporation tax from 28p in the pound to 21p, with a further reduction to 20% next year. For similar reasons, the Wales Bill makes provision for the Welsh Assembly to call a referendum on a lower rate of taxation for Wales, and I hope that it will seize that opportunity.

Given that the future of businesses in Wales depends on the vibrancy of our young workers, is the right hon. Gentleman encouraged by the fact that the Welsh Government’s policies are clearly working, in that the youth unemployment rate has come down faster and further than anywhere else in the United Kingdom? Will he be less churlish towards the Welsh Government and praise the jobs growth fund and that achievement?

Far from being churlish, I commend Jobs Growth Wales for making an important contribution. Having said that, it is a limited contribution, and the important thing is for the Welsh Government to work closely with the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure that we can drive down even further the unemployment rates.

With businesses in Wales still cautious and a Budget that does little to help the 300,000 people in Wales who are earning less than the living wage, will the Secretary of State now back Labour’s plans to give a tax break to businesses that raise their employees’ pay to at least the living wage, so that work will pay?

As the hon. Lady knows, we have given every business in Wales relief against national insurance contributions of up to £2,000. We have also taken young people up to the age of 21 out of employers’ national insurance contributions altogether. I very much hoped that the hon. Lady would welcome that. It was an excellent Budget for business in Wales.