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Support for Businesses

Volume 604: debated on Tuesday 19 January 2016

The Government are backing businesses by cutting their taxes. We have given Britain the lowest corporate tax rate in the G20, and we are cutting it further. To support small businesses, the employment allowance will rise by 50% in April, and we are doubling small business rate relief. This Government understand that we create jobs and raise money for public services by backing companies, not by punishing them with the kind of anti-business, anti-enterprise nonsense that we hear from the Labour party.

Manufacturers in my constituency, such as Innova Design, are growing, thanks to the rise in investment allowance tax relief which takes effect this month. Will the Chancellor join me in congratulating Innova Design on its growth and success, and will he also continue to support the British manufacturing sector, an industry that was neglected by Labour for 13 years?

Absolutely. I join my hon. Friend in congratulating Innova Design on the work that it is doing. We are investing in transport infrastructure on the south coast, and we are also backing companies—not just there, but around the country—with a permanent annual allowance of £200,000, which is the highest that it has ever been.

What steps does the Chancellor intend to take to ensure that the quarterly tax returns that are made in 2020 will not harm small businesses in constituencies such as mine by affecting their productivity and their ability to make profits?

My hon. Friend is right. Our objective is to make it easier for businesses, and indeed individuals, to complete their tax returns by making use of modern digital technology, and we are introducing a simple and secure personalised digital tax account. We estimate that that will reduce the administrative cost to businesses by £400 million.

The best way to support manufacturing businesses in the midlands would be to free the region from London’s control, because it has been stifled by Whitehall for far too long. If the Chancellor gives us the powers and the funds that we need to strengthen the economy, develop brownfield sites and tackle congestion, we will deliver more jobs, better skills, quicker transport and new homes.

We have a deal, because that is exactly what we are doing with the west midlands. We have worked with different political parties: I have met both Labour and Conservative authority leaders and Members of Parliament in the region, and we have collectively agreed to have an elected Mayor and to hand significant powers from this place and the Government to the people of the west midlands. I think that that is one of the most exciting steps that have been taken in the devolution of power in this country.

What further discussions have taken place with the devolved Administrations about the introduction of fiscal incentives to pump-prime apprenticeships and economic growth?

We are in discussions with the Northern Ireland Executive about what we can do to support the economy, and it is great news that we are now moving forward with the additional resources for capital investment there. Of course, one of the things that we would really like to see is the devolution of corporation tax rates, for which we have legislated, and provided that we can reach agreement on the budget implications of that measure, it would provide a massive boost for Northern Irish businesses.

21. I welcome the Chancellor’s reduction in corporation tax, which has helped to create many jobs. Does he agree that some businesses cannot grow, despite that measure, because of local infrastructure constraints such as the one that needs addressing in my constituency at the Chickenhall Lane link road? (903120)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We are investing in transport infrastructure in the Southampton area and along the south coast, as I was just saying to my hon. Friend the Member for Havant (Mr Mak). We understand that all parts of the country can benefit from additional investment in transport infrastructure, and that is why we are increasing the transport budget even at a time when public budgets are tight. None of these things would be affordable if we crashed the economy.

The introduction of quarterly reporting and tax returns has been described by the Institute of Chartered Accountants as an additional burden for business. Does the Chancellor understand the very real anger among businesses in my constituency and around the country that they are being penalised while many of the largest corporations are allowed to avoid tax altogether?

We have increased our action against large-scale corporate tax avoidance and evasion, and the new diverted profits tax is designed to deal with the very real anger that people feel, particularly in the small business community, when they see large businesses not paying tax. We are also dealing with the burdens of tax administration, and we are consulting small businesses. I would just make the point that we would be crazy as a country not to make use of new digital technology and the internet to update and modernise our tax collection system, and we would regret not taking those steps today and letting other countries power ahead in reducing the burdens on business.