Treasury Questions

Business Support

7. David Rutley (Macclesfield) (Con): What fiscal steps he is taking to support businesses. [901117]
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke): 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.
David Rutley: 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?
Mr Gauke: 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.
Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab): 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?
Mr Gauke: 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.
18. [901129] Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay) (Con): 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?
Mr Gauke: 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.
Alison McGovern (Wirral South) (Lab): 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?
Mr Gauke: 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.

Small Businesses

9. William Wragg (Hazel Grove) (Con): What fiscal steps he is taking to support small businesses. [901119]
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke): Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and the Government are committed to helping them grow and prosper. In the summer Budget we announced that we will increase the employment allowance from £2,000 to £3,000 to help small businesses with the cost of employment, and support business investment through the highest permanent level for the annual investment allowance. We will also transform the tax system over the course of this Parliament by introducing digital tax accounts.
William Wragg: The Government’s policies are creating a climate of economic confidence. However, they are also having the effect of strengthening the pound against other currencies, particularly the euro, which many small exporters in my constituency tell me is making the price of their exports uncompetitive. What advice and support can my hon. Friend give to those small and medium-sized exporters in Hazel Grove so that they can continue to lead our economic recovery?
Mr Gauke: We recognise that the recent weakness in our European trading partners has presented a particular challenge for SMEs trying to export. The Government are working hard to help British businesses export to a wider variety of destinations, contributing to strong recent performance in key emerging markets. That help includes a £20 million package of support this year for first-time exporters, but we need to do more and our productivity plan sets out how we will do that.
Simon Danczuk (Rochdale) (Lab): Will the business rates review help small businesses? It is a simple question for a simply smart Minister.
Mr Gauke: I am grateful for that question—I think. It is a review; I do not want to judge in advance what the conclusions will be, but we have engaged very fully with small business organisations and listen very carefully to what they have to say, and we will report by the end of the year.


11. Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): What estimate he has made of the net change in revenue to the public purse that will arise from tax changes announced in the summer Budget 2015. [901122]
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke): The change in revenue from tax changes announced in the summer Budget is shown in the Budget document. It shows that net receipts increase by between £4 billion and £6.5 billion in each full year of the forecast period. The Government pledged to raise £5 billion per year from tax. The measures announced in the Budget mean that by 2019-20, the Government will have delivered on their targets, raising £5 billion from avoidance and tax planning, evasion and compliance, and imbalances in the tax system.
Steve McCabe: Ernst and Young points out that the rise in household taxes is reducing disposable income, with £47.2 billion of tax rises, including the insurance premium tax and vehicle excise duty. Does the Minister accept that over the course of this Parliament, these tax rises are twice as big as any tax cuts?
Mr Gauke: We said at the election that we would raise a further £5 billion in tax, but we have one question from a Labour MP complaining about the deficit being too high, we have Labour voting against any measures to control spending, and now we have Labour complaining about any tax increases. So where do they stand? We failed to find coherence from the Labour party in the last Parliament and there is no sign of it in this Parliament.
20.[901131] Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): Over this Parliament, the UK will pay £27 billion more in EU contributions because the EU has failed to cut farm subsidies. Would it not help our revenues if the EU actually kept their word?
Mr Gauke: My hon. Friend is of course aware of the historic deal that the Prime Minister achieved in February 2013, when for the first time ever we saw a real-terms cut in the EU budget. That was a significant achievement, and we obviously want to preserve and build on it.
Philip Boswell (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) (SNP): The Chancellor has made some noise—indeed, the Minister mentioned this—about closing tax avoidance schemes exploited by private equity and hedge fund managers, specifically the “Mayfair” tax loophole. Can he confirm that he intends to close these loopholes?
Mr Gauke: We achieved a huge amount in the previous Parliament on tax loopholes. In the Budget, the Chancellor set out plans for additional resources for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to raise even more in dealing with tax avoidance and tax evasion. The particular example that the hon. Gentleman mentions relates to the long-standing treatment of the capital gains tax applying to private equity—something that has existed for many years and applied in most other countries. The Budget contained a number of measures that were designed to close loopholes for the private equity and hedge fund industries.


David holds regular surgeries at various places in the constituency, including Rickmansworth, South Oxhey, Berkhamsted and Tring. 
Forthcoming dates:


22nd June, South Oxhey
6th July, Berkhamsted
20th July, Rickmansworth
2nd August, Tring
13th August, South Oxhey
31st August, Berkhamsted
14th September, Rickmansworth
28th September, Tring
19th October, South Oxhey
26th October, Berkhamsted
9th November, Rickmansworth

Call 01923 771781 to make an appointment.

Record of surgeries

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