National Insurance Contributions Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:11 pm on 4th November 2013.

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Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Conservative, Macclesfield 6:11 pm, 4th November 2013

Absolutely; there is a responsibility on all Members to do that. It is disappointing how few Opposition Members are present, and what they have said has been negative, rather than focused on the opportunities that are available.

As Lord Young of Graffham has rightly argued, there are regulatory issues that we must deal with. The employment allowance will simplify the system for small businesses. We must also tackle the problems with culture and communication. Through careers advice in schools, we must help young people to realise that there are huge opportunities in small businesses. If people are familiar with SMEs and particularly micro-businesses early in their careers, they are more likely to stick with them and to take the step of setting up small businesses themselves.

There is certainly no lack of ambition. The Prince’s Trust has found that up to 30% of young people expect to be self-employed, and a YouGov poll has found that 43% of young people have made money through entrepreneurial activities, like selling their own products or working on a freelance basis. We must help them to achieve their ambitions. The Bill means that their aspirations will not just be pipe dreams. It is a can-do Bill for a can-do generation and it deserves our support.

Those who seek to regulate businesses or to complicate the tax system should recognise the consequences of doing so. Whitehall communications must take notice of business-to-business communications so that those communications can be strengthened. My hon. Friend the Member for Skipton and Ripon highlighted the importance of the work of HMRC on communicating more effectively. I would add to that the work of Directgov.

As Lord Young says, it is vital that the psychological barriers are broken down so that they do not stifle the ambition that is latent in the marketplace. If we are to create an aspiration nation, the road to running one’s own business must be a clearly signposted fast lane, not the last Labour Government’s minefield of forms, box ticking and regulations. Their approach reminded me of a sign that I saw once to a business park, which said, “Enterprise Way—Cul-de-sac”. We have to have a different perspective and that is what this Government are seeking to achieve.

In small firms, there is often less formality, more fluidity and greater flexibility. What we need, and what we now have, is a simple tax allowance that everybody can understand. That will create more jobs and more first-time employers. It is vital that the Government communicate the scheme creatively. I also say to the Minister that we must not listen to what is said by the Opposition. The idea that we have listened to them in designing the scheme is fanciful. After the deficit and flawed forecasts that they gave us, the chances of our listening to them are somewhere between no hope and Bob Hope. Their jobs tax, on top of the record deficit, would have been devastating for the economy.

In conclusion, I am delighted that the Government are champions of first-time entrepreneurs. I believe that the Bill will help us to encourage more of them to become first-time employers. I give the Bill my full support.