Helping business growth and employment

A COUPLE of weeks ago, I mentioned that I’d been the speaker at a Budget de-brief breakfast meeting, attended by people from Horsham and Crawley. It was useful for having been held a few weeks after the budget, when the economic dust had been able to settle and I was really interested in hear the questions people had come prepared with.

Understandably, for they affect each and every one of us, many people wanted to know exactly what we’re doing to help business and to create growth and employment.

Creating growth is our main priority and reducing the deficit and restoring our economic stability is vital in achieving it. To facilitate, we’re creating the most competitive tax system in the G20. By tackling unnecessary red tape, streamlining the planning system and extending the small business rate relief holiday for a year, we’re also aiming to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business. Local enterprise partnerships, including our very own Coast to Capital, will be vital in putting in place the conditions for private sector job creation in local communities.

A strong manufacturing base is absolutely essential for a balanced economy and our corporation tax cuts, once fully implemented, should benefit the sector by some £250m. We’re retaining the Manufacturing Advisory Service; cutting the main rate of corporation tax; increasing the SME rate of R&D tax credit to 200 per cent and making trade and export promotion a key element of foreign policy.

Something that those who attended the Crawley breakfast were particularly focused on – as are, without fail, managers and business owners I meet on constituency visits – was ensuring that businesses can access a wide range of sources of finance. It is absolutely crucial if they are to invest and grow.

I’m pleased to say that following the successful conclusion of ‘Project Merlin’, the major banks have agreed to make available £190bn of new credit to business in 2011, with some $76bn earmarked for SMEs. A revised Lending Code and independent review of bank appeals processes for declined loan applications will also ensure the borrowing process is fair and equitable for all businesses. The rate of Enterprise Investment Scheme income tax relief has also has been increased to 30 per cent from this month, which will encourage greater investment in SMEs with high growth potential.

This maybe wasn’t a topic that would naturally sit alongside a weekend of national celebration but it is important and I hope readers have found it useful.

So, here’s to our second bank holiday weekend and here’s to William and Kate – I wish them all the best for a very special day tomorrow and a very happy future together.

FRANCIS MAUDE

MP for Horsham