UK businesses - playing their part in the nation's recovery
Speaking in the Finance (No. 2) Bill debate I made clear my support for the Budget and in particular the need for businesses to play their part in the nation's recovery from COVID-19.
Across the Penistone and Stocksbridge constituency the vast majority of our 2,890 registered businesses are relatively small, with incomes of less than £250,000, which means few will be affected by the new rate of Corporation Tax. In fact, only around 10% of UK businesses will be affected, and set alongside the new super-deduction, businesses will be able to benefit significantly from reinvesting their profits into making large scale productivity enhancements. The independent Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast that, at its peak, the super-deduction will raise the level of business investment by 10%.
Driving through an investment-led recovery is exactly what we need to deliver the high value, high skills jobs that are so important in communities across the Penistone and Stocksbridge constituency.
Finance (No. 2) Bill
"I wish to speak to the numerous amendments and new clauses relating to corporation tax changes and the new super deduction.
As the previous speaker, the right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), will no doubt keenly remember, raising corporation tax was one of the pillars of Labour’s 2019 manifesto. We frequently hear Labour Members expressing the view that big businesses should pay their fair share of tax. I completely agree, and that is why I fully support the Government’s proposals to increase corporation tax with a new maximum rate of 25% for those businesses with profits of over a quarter of million pounds from April 2023. Unlike a rise in income tax or national insurance, which affects taxpayers in a blanket way regardless of personal financial circumstances, corporation tax is only paid when profits are made—no profit, no tax due. And where profits are made, it is of course absolutely right that a proportion of those profits is returned to the taxpayer, because without the infrastructure, education, security and health services that the state provides, those businesses would clearly be much less profitable.
Corporation tax is only paid when profits are made—no profit, no tax due.
Members across the House like to champion small and local businesses, and rightly so. These businesses will, in the vast majority of cases, continue to pay the lower rate of corporation tax. In my constituency, we have 2,890 registered businesses, with 88% having fewer than 10 employees. These are not the kind of companies that generally make profits exceeding a quarter of a million pounds a year. The corporation tax rise will only affect the very largest and most profitable businesses. In fact, only 10% of businesses will pay the new higher rate. The Government are right to delay the increase until 2023, as it gives companies time to plan as we emerge from a period of uncertainty, but it is wrong to say that the impact of the pandemic means that the change should not take place at all. Yes, many businesses have struggled during the pandemic, but some businesses have prospered hugely, often due to circumstances for which they can take no credit. Online traders and the big supermarkets have seen their revenues increase substantially purely because other retailers have been legally forced to close. It is therefore right for the Exchequer to recoup some of those additional revenues through taxation. These measures must therefore pass without the proposed amendments, some of which could allow large businesses to restructure to avoid the high rates of tax.
We all want UK businesses to be profitable, but we also want those profits to result in higher wages, better training and reinvestment in our economy so that profits can be shared fairly across society and not just concentrated among shareholders or the most highly paid executives. In other words, we need businesses to be more productive. Low productivity has been a thorn in the flesh of the UK economy for some time. The proposed super deduction is therefore exactly the measure we need to encourage the reinvestment of profits through large-scale investment, turning crisis into opportunity and setting UK businesses on a new path to innovation, productivity and growth. The OBR has predicted that this will increase business investment by 9% and lift us from 30th in the OECD’s world rankings for business investment to first. This is the right moment for this incentive, when many businesses have been forced to pivot or have seized opportunities presented by the pandemic, and now is the time to invest. That is why I oppose the amendments to the super deduction clauses, which would ultimately delay and reduce its effectiveness.
Our economy is an ecosystem, with the private sector, the public sector, our communities, individual employees and employers existing interdependently in a multitude of symbiotic relationships. Each element of this ecosystem has obligations and responsibilities to the other parts. For businesses, these responsibilities include paying fair levels of tax and making investment decisions in the best interests of our whole society. It is the Government’s role to encourage businesses to act for the common good. The unamended measures in this Bill will be successful in doing just that."