This summer I am knocking on doors with a survey which asks residents what priorities they have for me when Parliament returns. With 50,000 doors across the constituency, I will not get to everyone but hope to get as many views as possible.
With a change in Government, I have been dispatched from my role as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor. I only found this out officially when a colleague forwarded me a social media post from the MP who has been appointed to take my place. That’s the cut and thrust of politics for you. I bear no ill will and want to put all my energy and focus into speaking in Parliament about issues which impact us locally.
Whilst in my Government post, convention barred me from speaking in Parliament about anything related to the Treasury. I took a liberal interpretation of that convention, hence my calls for more spending on schools, but it did limit me in some aspects. Now I am off the leash.
In our community we are largely reliant on our small and medium-sized businesses to provide the employment and the tax revenue to keep our county functioning. The people who run these businesses often work long hours for often slim profit or income. Indeed, many new business take several years before their owners can draw an income. These people need our thanks for their enterprise as well as our help. My job is to free them from the shackles which Government and legislation can sometimes bind them by. When businesses are able to expand, we can all benefit.
Having spent time this month with a diverse number of small businesses, there are a few matters on my campaign sheet for this new Government:
1. Business Rates are a tax on employment and act as a disincentive to growth. As soon as a business expands or enhances its premises, an inspector calls and hikes up the rates. Yes, we have exempted some smaller businesses but it’s time to replace this outdated tax with a tax on profits. This way, the internet companies will also pay their fair share.
2. It’s right that businesses pay VAT but setting the entry-point at £85,000 means owners may decide not grow their turnover above that level. It’s time to taper VAT rates so businesses pay at a gradual rate. This will incentivise growth.
3. Regulations have a vital role in protecting the consumer and our community but the rate of growth, and lack of logic, needs to be proportionate. For many public agencies, growth in regulation is an industry in itself. In many areas, it should be for the buyer and seller to decide what service or product they want and not be told what they can or cannot have. People often blame the EU but more often it is our over-zealous interpretation, either in Parliament or by public body, of EU regulations which causes the issue.
When door-knocking, the starting point of the conversation tends to be me saying ‘Don’t worry, there’s not an election on’. Let’s hope that line lasts not just for the summer but the next two to come, leaving me to speak in Parliament for our local priorities.