Skip to main content

Support for Business

Volume 702: debated on Tuesday 2 November 2021

Last week’s Budget set out an ambitious package to support business, enterprise and innovation: the super-deduction, new relief to incentivise investment, a reduction in business rates and investment in infrastructure, innovation and skills to drive future growth. This was a Budget that backed businesses across the United Kingdom.

Business rates are broken. Business owners on Boston Road and The Broadway in Southall in my constituency do not want hypocritical answers. They want the system fixed to support smaller businesses and help them to thrive. What will the Chancellor do to help them?

Last week’s Budget set out a £1.7 billion tax cut for many small and medium-sized businesses across the UK. It will mean that retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will see a 50% discount in their business rates next year, up to the value of £110,000 each. That will, of course, benefit many of the shops in Southall that the hon. Gentleman mentioned, and hopefully I can do my bit by visiting to buy my Diwali mithai later this week.

The Chancellor will know that Bracknell has successfully reinvigorated its town centre and continues to be a great place to do business. Noting that Bracknell and neighbouring Wokingham have one of the lowest centrally funded budgets in the country from central Government, will he please reassure me that east Berkshire will not be passed by when it comes to levelling-up funding?

I can assure my hon. Friend that, whether through the levelling up fund, the community ownership fund or the community renewal fund, this Government have ambitions to level up across the entire United Kingdom. With regard to the local government funding he asks about, last week’s spending review set out £1.6 billion over the year of additional cash grant, the precise allocation of which will be set out in due course by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in the local government finance settlement.

I wish the Chancellor and my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr Sharma) a very happy Diwali. As well as all the tax rises on income and business that the Chancellor has announced in the past six months, buried in the Budget Red Book is a plan for a stealth tax on the self-employed of £1.7 billion over the next few years. After the past 18 months, in which many self-employed people have had no help at all, and when they are already being hit with the other tax rises he has announced, why are the self-employed now being hit with this extra tax rise, which he did not even mention in his Budget speech last week?

There were no extra taxes for the self-employed in last week’s Budget; the right hon. Gentleman may be referring to a timing difference that was reflected in the Budget scorecard of previously announced policies. With regard to the self-employed, he should take a moment to reflect on the fact that this Government provided almost £30 billion of support to millions of self-employed people throughout the crisis, and I am very glad that we did so.

May I first thank the Chancellor for the steps in the Budget to help retail, hospitality and leisure businesses? They have gone down very well in my constituency, where those businesses are important, were hit hard during in the pandemic and were grateful for the support they got. People have commented to me that the most useful thing he can do is to focus on getting the public finances in order, as he spoke about in the latter part of his speech, so that we get taxes on a downward path as we go through this Parliament. That is the best fiscal way to help businesses to prosper in the future.

As always, my right hon. Friend makes an excellent point, and I thank him for the eloquent speech he made on this topic last week. I wholeheartedly agree with him. My intention and goal over the rest of this Parliament is to reduce taxes, and we both know that the best way to create growth and prosperity in this country is to unleash the entrepreneurial innovation of our private businesses.

A happy Diwali to the Chancellor and all who are celebrating. Hospitality and tourism businesses face a tough winter, with rising fuel, staffing and supply costs. While the Scottish Government, to their credit, have brought in 100% rates relief, the Chancellor’s proposals of a few pence off a pint are small comfort in comparison. A greater help would be maintaining the 12.5% value added tax rate right through next year, not putting it back up to 20% in the spring. Will he bring forward proposals to do that and to support our tourism and hospitality businesses in the Finance Bill?

The reduced rate of VAT was put in place to support the hospitality industry during coronavirus. It extends all the way to next spring; it does not step up until next March, as the hon. Lady pointed out. As she also pointed out, the Government are putting in place business rates support to help businesses in that industry—as I said previously, up to £110,000 for each business next year through a 50% discount on their business rates, with Barnett consequentials flowing to Scotland as a result.

Brewers have gone through a really challenging time throughout the pandemic, so the Chancellor’s announcement of a reduction in the draft beer duty rate was extremely welcome. Keith and Dave Bott, owners of Titanic Brewery, want to pass on their thanks to the Chancellor directly and hope that he can come and enjoy the Bulls Head in Burslem to celebrate this fantastic achievement.

I thank my hon. Friend for the kind invitation, which he also sent me by phone. I look forward to accepting it soon and to celebrating Stoke’s success in not one, not two but three levelling-up fund bids.