Business Support

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 21st July 2015.

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Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Conservative, Macclesfield 11:30 am, 21st July 2015

What fiscal steps he is taking to support businesses.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

In addition to the measures we took in the last Parliament, in the summer Budget we announced that we will: cut the main rate of corporation tax to 19% in 2017 and 18% in 2020; publish a business tax road map by April 2016, giving businesses the certainty they need to plan for long-term investment; support business investment by increasing the annual investment allowance from £25,000 to £200,000—its highest ever permanent level; and increase the employment allowance from £2,000 to £3,000.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Conservative, Macclesfield

The announcement that national insurance and corporation tax will both be further lowered will be welcome news for businesses in my constituency and across the country, as we take forward our long-term economic plan. The Labour party went into the election promising to increase tax on businesses. Does my hon. Friend agree that that is the wrong approach and that it is by lowering taxes that we best back businesses to create the jobs needed by our families?

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

First, may I express my sympathies to my hon. Friend’s constituents affected by the tragic incident in Bosley on Friday? I know he raised that matter in the House yesterday. I agree with him that if we want to improve investment in the UK, and therefore productivity, we should be looking to cut corporation tax, not raise it. It would have been a big mistake to have reversed the progress we have made.

Photo of Clive Efford Clive Efford Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport)

Actually, Labour’s plan at the last election was to cut business rates for small businesses. The Chancellor neglected to mention business rates in the Budget, so can the Minister tell us how the review is going and give us a guarantee that it will not result in an increase in business rates?

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

I have to remind the hon. Gentleman that Labour’s manifesto included a plan to increase corporation tax. A review of business rates is being undertaken, and it will report by the end of the year. Remember that it was the previous Government who in 2013 announced a package of business rates cuts worth £2.7 billion, and only this April we introduced a further set of measures that reduced business rates by £1 billion, so we have a proud record on this.

Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy in Cornwall. While many are thriving under the policies of this Government, those in the tourism industry are experiencing a downturn in business as a result of families not being able to take their children out of school during term time. Is the Minister prepared to meet me to look at the economic impact that policy is having on the Cornish economy and the challenges those businesses are facing?

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

Pupils should be in school during term time, and we believe that needs to be properly enforced. We have said that schools should have greater flexibility in setting their own term dates, which might help address the matter. I am happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss this, but I know that he has already done so with Education Ministers.

Photo of Alison McGovern Alison McGovern Shadow Minister (Treasury)

Let me bring the Minister back to the important issue of business rates, because we have a crisis on our hands. There are reports that the valuation office is now having to deal with 500 appeals a day. Will he just throw businesses a rope? They do not believe that the Government will change a thing, so will he offer them an interim report on their review in September?

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

We are pressing ahead with various proposals to improve the administration of business rates, but I remind the House that it was the previous Government who brought in measures such as the rebate for retail and the 2% cap, so we have introduced measures to help on business rates and we are introducing measures to improve their administration as well.