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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:27 pm on 24th March 2011.

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Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 2:27 pm, 24th March 2011

Let me finish this point. One genuine philosophical difference we have with the Opposition is on how best to help those on low and modest pay. The Opposition believe in using targeted means-tested benefits. By contrast, we believe that the best way of doing this is by lifting low earners out of tax—880,000 on 1 April and 260,000 more next year. In this way, we not only lift them out of tax but reinforce the incentive to work and to save alongside the welfare reforms. Other taxpayers received £200 in cash last year and will get £126 more next year. We believe that in tough times, we should let taxpayers—especially the low-paid—keep more of their own money, rather than taking it off them and giving some back through complex means-tested benefits.

The test of the Budget will not be the response of the political world or this debate. It will be the response of the business community, which has to invest for recovery. It is worth reviewing what the business community has said about the Budget as it has often been critical of Budgets in the past. The British Chamber of Commerce said:

“Despite tight fiscal conditions we are encouraged that the Chancellor has prioritised business growth and private sector expansion alongside deficit reduction”.

The Engineering Employers Federation—the manufacturers —commented:

“The Growth Review has now started to deliver tangible progress in removing the barriers to growth investment and job creation in the UK”.

And the CBI concluded:

“This budget will help businesses grow and create jobs”.

The Government recognise that the road back to balanced, sustainable recovery will be painful and difficult, but we are on the right track. As the head of the OECD put it, we must “stick with it”.