Tories pledge tax breaks to help UKs small businesses

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson will offer businesses a series of tax breaks today as he seeks to repair relations damaged by Brexit.

The prime minister and Jeremy Corbyn will set out their rival pitches in speeches to the CBI. Mr Johnson will pledge to hand small firms a £1,000 tax break by lifting to £4,000 an allowance they can claim against employer’s national insurance contributions.

More generous allowances for business premises and research and development take the overall package from the Tories to £1 billion. Mr Johnson will also promise an immediate “fundamental review” of business rates, leading to a reduction of its “overall burden” on firms and employers.

The prime minister will acknowledge that “big business didn’t want Brexit”. He will say that repeated delays and threats of a no-deal Brexit mean that ministers have been “marching businesses up to the top of the hill, only to march them down again”, adding: “While you didn’t want it, the people did vote for it. And so it was for politicians to deliver it.”

Conservative campaign headquarters were unable to expand on the terms of reference for the review of the business rates or provide a timetable, beyond saying that it would be included in the first budget of a Tory government and that ministers would “consult widely”.

Mr Corbyn will offer to revamp the apprenticeship levy as the centrepiece of his business offer. The Labour leader will promise companies more flexibility in how the levy operates.

He will seek to soften the blow of moves to make companies put 10 per cent of their equity into “inclusive ownership funds” by pledging that a portion of the £700 million raised in dividends would be used to train apprentices.

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director-general, said that some of Labour’s policies, including a pledge to nationalise the bulk of Britain’s broadband network, threatened to “crack the foundations of our economy”.