Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:54 pm on 8th March 2017.

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Photo of Andrew Tyrie Andrew Tyrie Chair, Treasury Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, National Policy Statements Sub-Committee 1:54 pm, 8th March 2017

My hon. Friend, who is also a member of the Treasury Committee, makes the point that modest or slightly larger businesses will also find the bureaucratic burden introduced by the “Making tax digital” proposals pretty tough. The Committee has taken a lot of evidence on that. In the very long run, digital returns will be the future, but the question is how we get there. This is a generational change, and it is important not to sour relations between small businesses and the Revenue, which can easily happen if we hit small businesses over the head in the hope of getting a bit of extra money in years 1 and 2, or years 2 and 3. With a little more caution, small businesses can be brought into the system and yield a higher long-term revenue because we have their co-operation.

The second change—I will not linger too long on this because I lingered on “Making tax digital”—is to business rates. The Chancellor has announced a welcome relief for those businesses hit by revaluation. He has announced three concessions, which will cost quite a bit of money taken collectively. The concessions are not only important but essential. The small businesses that are being hit by the business rate changes are the lifeblood of the local economy in all our constituencies, and the measures will give them some relief from the pressure.

The Red Book suggests that the Chancellor might consider proposals for more frequent revaluation of business rates. I am pleased about that, because the big problem is the cliff edge created by revaluations every five or seven years. In a nutshell, we require both more frequent revaluation and quicker appeals. We need both. It cannot be beyond the wit of man to devise a reform that can deliver them.

While I am thanking the Chancellor, I thank him for agreeing, as he did when he came before the Treasury Committee recently, to publish the distributional analysis of the Budget measures on a basis comparable to that published in the last Parliament. The Committee will look carefully at the distributional analysis and other tax measures, and it will do so in a slightly more considered and less rushed way than we have in the past.