Anyone who has been in business knows all too well the risks and uncertainties that come with it. Running a business, or working for yourself, often means taking a chance and putting your family’s livelihood on the line.
That is why it is vital that we as politicians do all we can to support those entrepreneurs who do take a risk. From farmers to florists to financial services, investment in our public services is underpinned by the growth and prosperity of our industries.
Since 2010, we have seen a steady growth of new companies in the UK. In 2010, there were 235,000, and in 2015, that figure stood at 383,000. The number of businesses opening their doors now outstrips the number closing them by the largest margin since records began. During 2016 over 9,000 new companies were formed in Berkshire, around 1,500 of these in West Berkshire.
Conservatives have been, and always will be, on the side of enterprise. In 2010 Corporation Tax was at 28%, and it will fall to 17% by 2020. This will be the lowest rate among major advanced economies and sends a clear signal that this country is open for business.
This is good news for businesses of all sizes, but equally welcome will be news on business rates. I have long campaigned for reform to the ratings system and the latest revaluation exposed flaws in how the system works. The Chancellor is right to commit to a review before the next round of valuations and I hope he and Sajid Javid look long and hard at how the Valuation Office Agency works.
But reviews take time, and small businesses also need practical help now. The Chancellor gave welcome support for the smallest businesses, for pubs, and for local authorities to use their discretion to help the most affected in their area. This will be welcome news for the riding schools in my constituency facing a 356% increase in their rates bills. The decision to freeze fuel duty for the eighth year running is particularly welcome for rural businesses in constituencies like mine, and worth £130 a year for the average driver.