This Government champion British businesses. We are delivering a significant programme of reform to enable businesses to grow, expand and, importantly, become successful. The reforms are all part of the Government’s long-term economic plan to secure business-led economic recovery.
The number of new business start-ups in my constituency has increased by 100% since 2010. Does the Minister agree that creating a good business environment, with lower taxes and incentives to invest, is crucial to the future of the black country economy in the west midlands, part of which I represent?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. [Hon. Members: “Is he a champion?”] He is, indeed, a champion, and a strong voice for his constituency and his constituents. He is of course right in every respect. This Government are backing business every step of the way. Our long-term economic plan is making it easier to start and grow businesses, as he has seen across his constituency.
Figures published by the Bank of England last week show that net lending to business is still negative. After four and a half years of this Government, when can we expect the figures to go positive, and will we see out the last 100 days of this failed Government, who need a fresh Government to do the job for them?
To put it bluntly, this Government have turned around not only the economy, but the business environment. This Government have backed British businesses and business lending every step of the way, which is in stark contrast to a Labour Government, under whom that would only go backwards.
Does the Minister recognise that when the consultation on tax reforms for the North sea finishes, it will be crucial to businesses in the north-east of Scotland for the Budget to set in place permanent reforms for the long term, not just for the crisis?
My hon. Friend touches on a very significant point. The reality right now is that the reforms are all about long-term economic security. This Government have worked assiduously to ensure that every measure undertaken, whether to back businesses or to create the right tax environment for businesses—he has championed that in his constituency—is the right way forward.
What discussions has the Minister had with her colleagues in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills who, in answer to a recent question, admitted that they expect to spend less than £1 million of the employer ownership fund, which was allocated £30 million to help businesses? What will she do about this failure to help businesses?
I emphasise again that this Government have supported businesses and lending to businesses. That is in stark contrast to the failed policies of the Opposition, and to the fact that the hon. Lady’s party would just put up business taxes and take away the support given to small businesses under this Government.