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[ Question time: Mark Prisk MP ]


and spending £6 billion on upgrades and maintenance on London Underground; and


n £860 million to support households and business investing in renewable heat measures.


The government is committed to helping companies in the construction industry and all sectors prosper. We have set out a series of measures to support businesses and SMEs in particular.


ECA T oday: More than 80 per cent of ECA members are


SMEs. What is the government doing to help SMEs in the electrical sectors and encourage business growth?


Mark Prisk: Given that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) account for more than 99 per cent of private businesses, SME performance and activity is a key driver of the UK economy. This is true for SMEs in the electrical sector, just as much as in any other sector. Rather than interfering in how businesses are run, the


government’s priority is to create a stable, long-term framework within which companies can have the confidence to invest and grow. If we are to promote growth in the economy, we need to address the challenges that small businesses face. In June, the Chancellor set out measures in the emergency


Budget to realise our ambition of making Britain among the best places in the world to start and grow a business. The tax system has grown increasingly complex over recent years. Our reforms will ensure that businesses benefit from a simple, more predictable tax system, saving time and costs. We are cutting the main rate of corporation tax from 28


per cent to 24 per cent over four years, bringing us closer to our aim of creating the most competitive corporation tax regime in the G20. We are also reducing the small firms’ rate to 20 per cent, rather than increasing it to 22 per cent, as planned by the previous administration. On capital gains, we are protecting businesses as well. The


10 per cent entrepreneurs’ lifetime relief allowance is being substantially increased, from the first £2 million of gains to the first £5 million of gains. By extending the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme to support £2 billion in loans over the next four years, we will help around 6,000 viable small businesses a year gain access to the finance they need. We have also provided an extra £200 million to the Enterprise Capital Funds to invest in high-growth small firms. Having been a businessman myself, I am aware of the restrictions that regulations place on innovation and growth. We have already announced a new ‘one-in, one-out’ rule aimed at combating red-tape, and the Yourfreedom website (http://yourfreedom.hmg.gov.uk/) allows businesses and individuals to nominate regulations that could be changed or scrapped. I would encourage ECA members to get involved and put forward their suggestions. It is vital that more individuals go into business for themselves. If our economy is to recover and grow, we need to bring out the enterprising spirit in everyone. So this coalition government is committed to nurturing a new spirit of enterprise in Britain – to make this the most entrepreneurial decade in our country’s history.


ECA T


oday: De-regulation is an important theme for both the new government and industry. There are a


Winter 2010 ECA Today 33


number of regulations governing health and safety, and environmental protection that can be consolidated without any effect on standards. What plans does the government have to reduce unnecessary regulations for the building services and electrical industry – and, importantly, to ensure regulations that are needed are better enforced?


Mark Prisk: The government is committed to reducing the amount of tick-box form filling that places an unacceptable burden on businesses. We’ve already taken decisive action in the first few weeks of government to tackle the bureaucracy that firms have to deal with every day and are determined to continue. We’ve launched a fundamental review of all regulations


that were due to be introduced over the next year, to see if they’re still needed. We’ve also introduced a new, powerful committee that will agree which new regulations departments can introduce, and will oversee the new one-in, one-out rule for regulations. From now on, if the government wants to introduce a


new regulation, we will first have to find another regulation to scrub off the statute book. We have completed a review of the health and safety


muddle that can waste the time of business and wrap them up in bureaucracy, and are working on the findings. We are also taking a strong look at employment law to make sure it’s fulfilling its proper role, rather than restricting business owners and stifling business growth. I’m not suggesting that there will be no new regulations.


There will be occasions when this is the right course of action, but I want to make sure that government sees this as the last resort.


We will put apprenticeships at the heart of the system and will expand the programme


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