Treasury Questions

Business Support

7. James Morris (Halesowen and Rowley Regis) (Con): What progress his Department has made on supporting businesses. [907239]
The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Priti Patel): This Government champion British businesses. We are delivering a significant programme of reform to enable businesses to grow, expand and, importantly, become successful. The reforms are all part of the Government’s long-term economic plan to secure business-led economic recovery.
James Morris: The number of new business start-ups in my constituency has increased by 100% since 2010. Does the Minister agree that creating a good business environment, with lower taxes and incentives to invest, is crucial to the future of the black country economy in the west midlands, part of which I represent?
Priti Patel: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. [Hon. Members: “Is he a champion?”] He is, indeed, a champion, and a strong voice for his constituency and his constituents. He is of course right in every respect. This Government are backing business every step of the way. Our long-term economic plan is making it easier to start and grow businesses, as he has seen across his constituency.
Mr Andrew Love (Edmonton) (Lab/Co-op): Figures published by the Bank of England last week show that net lending to business is still negative. After four and a half years of this Government, when can we expect the figures to go positive, and will we see out the last 100 days of this failed Government, who need a fresh Government to do the job for them?
Priti Patel: To put it bluntly, this Government have turned around not only the economy, but the business environment. This Government have backed British businesses and business lending every step of the way, which is a stark contrast to a Labour Government, under whom that would only go backwards.
Sir Robert Smith (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine) (LD): Does the Minister recognise that when the consultation on tax reforms for the North sea finishes, it will be crucial to businesses in the north-east of Scotland for the Budget to set in place permanent reforms for the long term, not just for the crisis?
Priti Patel: My hon. Friend touches on a very significant point. The reality right now is that the reforms are all about long-term economic security. This Government have worked assiduously to ensure that every measure undertaken, whether to back businesses or to create the right tax environment for businesses—he has championed that in his constituency—is the right way forward.
Meg Munn (Sheffield, Heeley) (Lab/Co-op): What discussions has the Minister had with her colleagues in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills who, in answer to a recent question, admitted that they expect to spend less than £1 million of the employer ownership fund, which was allocated £30 million to help businesses? What will she do about this failure to help businesses?
Priti Patel: I emphasise again that this Government have supported businesses and lending to businesses. That is in stark contrast to the failed policies of the Opposition, and to the fact that the hon. Lady’s party would just put up business taxes and take away the support given to small businesses under this Government.

Tax Credits and Employment

13. Tom Greatrex (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (Lab/Co-op): What proportion of recipients of tax credits are in employment. [907246]
The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Priti Patel): Seventy-one per cent. of households in receipt of tax credits are in employment.
Tom Greatrex: I thank the Minister for that confirmation that more than two thirds of people getting tax credits are in work. How can she claim to be helping working families when the Chancellor wants to cut their tax credits again, causing real-terms economic pain?
Priti Patel: Let us put this into some context. For a start, tax credit spending rocketed under the previous Government and throughout this Parliament we have made it abundantly clear that we support those with low incomes. Let us not forget either that the impact of Labour’s great recession is still being felt. We continue to help people with the cost of living through the increases in personal allowances, the freeze in fuel duty, cuts in council tax and, of course, by reducing the cost of child care.
Richard Fuller (Bedford) (Con): Working tax credits are in effect a form of corporate welfare for employers who could pay higher wages, especially if tied to increased skills. Will the Minister continue her conversations with the Minister for Skills and Equalities about ways in which we can create a combination of those two, perhaps in the form of tax credits for training, such as proposed by Premier Inn?
Priti Patel: I thank my hon. Friend for his suggestion. He is right that more can be done through working with business and learning from their suggestions.
17. [907251] Pat Glass (North West Durham) (Lab): How can the Minister claim there is no cost of living crisis when average full-time wages are down by £2,000 a year, when huge and increasing numbers of workers are dependent on state benefits to make ends meet, and when the gap between chief execs’ salaries and the people who work for them is growing all the time?
Priti Patel: Let us be clear. There are a couple of points I would like to make. The Government have shown that the only way to improve and increase living standards is by tackling head-on the country’s economic problems, which are down to the legacy of the previous Government, and by supporting those who do the right thing and aspire to work. I hope the hon. Lady welcomes the fact that in her constituency things have improved, with employment down substantially by 47% and youth unemployment down by 52%.
Richard Graham (Gloucester) (Con): Tax credits have helped many people, but it is also true that some have been prevented from taking a promotion or a salary increase because they would lose more in taxpayer-funded benefits than they would gain from their employer. That has to be wrong. Does my hon. Friend agree that as universal credit is rolled out across the country, so we return to the crucial principle that work always pays? I am afraid that that got lost under the previous Government.
Priti Patel: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He mentions the very important universal credit roll-out. As it rolls out—[Interruption.] It is already being rolled out, and it is going well. As it rolls out, more and more people will benefit. He is right to point out that this is about both the value of work and aspiration. We are the only party that stands for aspiration and value in work, and inspiring people to get off benefits and back into work.


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May 18th Witham

May 29th Tiptree

A12/A120 Consultations

Strategic Road Network Consultations

There are two important consultations running at the moment on key strategic road infrastructure improvements - the A12 widening scheme and the upgrading of the A120. Priti has been campaigning to secure new investment in these roads and has welcomed the consultations taking place. Members of the public can review the proposals for the A12 and A120 at the weblinks below, attend consultation events, and respond to the consultation. Feel free to also contact Priti by email to: [email protected] with your views too.

Widening the A12

Upgrading the A120

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