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Small Businesses: Fiscal Support

Volume 742: debated on Tuesday 19 December 2023

A very jolly Christmas to you and all, Mr Speaker.

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of the economy, and we support them to thrive using levers across government. Our small business rate relief means that one third of business properties in England already pay no business rates. We provide tax reliefs benefiting SMEs, such as annual investment allowance and employment allowance, we support investments in SMEs through the British Business Bank programmes and we fund the schemes offering SMEs training and advice.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, Mr Speaker. The autumn statement was a huge success for small businesses across the country, with the Federation of Small Businesses describing it as “a game changer”. Will my hon. Friend outline to the House how the autumn statement package will benefit those small businesses in my constituency on which my towns and villages rely?

I thank my hon. Friend for his continuing support for small businesses in his constituency. Measures in the autumn statement to help them include extending the retail, hospitality and leisure relief for another year, which will support around 230,000 properties in England. That tax cut is worth nearly £2.4 billion. Meanwhile, by freezing the small business multiplier for a fourth consecutive year, we will be protecting more than a million properties from a multiplier increase. Other announcements that could benefit his constituents include the Help to Grow, management and Made Smarter programmes and moves to tackle late payments.

The new 55-day payment rule will apply to only a few hundred companies contracted by the Government, yet microbusinesses, which do not typically have Government contracts, wait on average 68 days for payments. Those businesses make up the majority of small businesses across our country. Why will the Government not back the Micro Business Alliance’s “Pay in 30 days” campaign?

As I mentioned, we are well aware of the issue of late payments, and we are in constant dialogue with the key stakeholders in this area, as well as colleagues at the Department for Business and Trade. We will always keep an eye on the measures, but the moves we have already made to tackle late payments, as announced recently, will make a big difference.