Start-up Manufacturing Businesses

Oral Answers to Questions — Business, Innovation and Skills – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 2nd February 2016.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield 11:30 am, 2nd February 2016

What steps he is taking to support start-up manufacturing businesses.

Photo of George Freeman George Freeman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has made clear, the Government continue to turn around the historic decline in manufacturing that took place under the last Labour Government. In the autumn statement and in the speech that my right hon. Friend is making today, we are setting out our commitment to manufacturing. There will be £300 million for the high- value manufacturing catapult centre—[Interruption.]

Perhaps Labour Members would listen. That £300 million programme will benefit the seven catapult centres in the United Kingdom.

We have doubled capital allowances for manufacturing companies, and we have put £1 billion into the aerospace and automotive industries at the Advanced Propulsion Centre, which includes a range of measures for small businesses. That is probably why the all-party parliamentary manufacturing group, which is chaired by the hon. and distinguished Gentleman, has said:

“British manufacturing is currently enjoying a resurgence, together with a reinvigorated interest in industrial policy.”

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

That report was published before the last Budget. In fact, the manufacturing sector is astonished at the way in which this Secretary of State has waved the white flag at the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has sneaked out the abolition of the Business Growth Service, sneaked out the abolition of the Manufacturing Advisory Service, and sneaked out the end of the GrowthAccelerator programme. Where is the industrial policy of this country, and what happened to the march of the makers?

Photo of George Freeman George Freeman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

I can tell the hon. Gentleman that the march of the makers is working. That is why we are leading the fastest-growing economy in Europe; it is why, interestingly, unemployment in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency is down by 60% and youth unemployment is down by 10%; it is why we continue to finance small businesses, which have received £2.5 billion through the British Business Bank and £35,000 in loans; and it is why we have doubled small business rate relief. From now on, 405,000 businesses will pay no rates at all. It is for those reasons that our economy is growing fastest—and that comes after 13 years during which manufacturing, under a Labour Government, fell to an historic low.

Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Education)

Many barriers, including energy costs and regulatory burdens, prevent manufacturing businesses from starting up. What discussions has the Minister had with the Chancellor about his policy of requiring businesses to return information about taxes to HMRC four times a year? Does he share my fear that that will increase the costs of businesses, impose extra work on them, and divert them from their job of actually manufacturing things?

Photo of George Freeman George Freeman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

I assure the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friends the Chancellor and the Business Secretary, and this ministerial team, take the need to reduce small business regulation very seriously. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Business Secretary is giving a speech to the Federation of Small Businesses today on precisely that subject.

The Government’s track record in this regard is incredibly strong. We have increased small business rate relief, we have taken £10 billion-worth of red tape from small businesses through the Enterprise Bill, and we are raising the rates of finance for small businesses. That is why we had a record 5.4 million new businesses in 2015, which means that 25% more businesses have been created since we came to power.