A number of key policies were outlined in today’s Queen’s Speech, which heralded the State Opening of Parliament and which will have significant impact on Milton Keynes.
A Bill was announced, to increase the tax free allowance to ensure people working 30 hours a week on the minimum wage will not pay any income tax and deliver a five-year tax lock, meaning there will be no income tax, VAT or National Insurance rises in this Parliament.
Unemployment has steadily fallen in Milton Keynes since 2010 from 5% to 2% and a further Bill announced today, aims to increase jobs nationally by 2 million and apprenticeships by a further 3 million.
Local MPs Mark Lancaster and Iain Stewart pictured have always taken a proactive view on job creation and as founders of the MK Jobs Show, which now sees thousands of people attending every year.
Mr Lancaster, MP for Milton Keynes North, said “This is a great first step for a majority Conservative government and some crucial Bills have been proposed today.
"For Milton Keynes, I see these steps as positive changes, continuous improvement and a message for the decisive development of our great city”
Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart added: “This is a strong and deliverable Queen’s speech. For the first time since 1996 we are able to implement a full Conservative manifesto.
“I am delighted to see the bill stopping rises in income tax, VAT and NI, in addition to the increase in the tax free allowance, this allows people to have more money in their pockets to spend as they wish.”
Mr Stewart added: “The employment bill will be very relevant to our economy here in Milton Keynes, we have done well when it comes to taking on more apprentices in the past few years but there is more that can be done and I hope the government can encourage more local businesses to take on our young and talented people.
"I am looking forward to getting these measures through the Commons and getting the job done.”
In or out of Europe? It is time to take stock
Mr Lancaster welcomes news in Queen’s Speech of an ‘In/ Out Referendum’ in this Parliament.
He said: “I have always been sceptical about an ever more federal Europe since my days of running a manufacturing business; welcoming free trade with Europe but suffering from the burden of European directives and legislation.
“I have always believed the true test of membership of the EU was whether it provides significant benefit to the people of the UK, which is why in 2009 I voted against the Lisbon Treaty because I did not believe it was in my constituents’ interests.
“Equally I believe that there are other elements of EU membership that have benefited the UK, such as the free movement of goods and the promotion of free trade. These were the original objectives our partnership with the EU and ones which we must protect in the interests of Britain.
“With so much mutual benefit in trade, I do not buy the argument that to leave the EU would end all trade especially at a time when our global non EU trade is increasingly so rapidly.
“I simply believe that now is the time to stop and take stock of our relationship with the EU, renegotiate a new deal that ensures national sovereignty is maintained on the key issues that affect us and most importantly, once that renegotiation is done, it’s the British people who must decide our future relationship with Europe.”
Enterprise Bill includes action on late payment
SMEs in Milton Keynes are one of the worst affected by late payments with 38% of invoices settled after 60 days, which is having a disproportionate affect on their bottom lines and stifling growth.
On average, it takes businesses in Milton Keynes 73 days to pay outstanding invoices and some of the worst offenders take up to 121 days to make payment.
Following the announcement in the Queen’s Speech confirming a new Enterprise Bill, which will be rolled out next year to assist small businesses in settling late payment issues and disputes, SMEs are now looking to the government for help.
John Atkinson, head of commercial business at Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance, said: “The picture is much bleaker than many could imagine when it comes to late payments affecting small businesses. 30% of our overall client base have payments settled after 60 days, which when considering that a large proportion operate with a turnover less than £750,000, is debilitating to any business that has not sourced financial support.
“The impact is that many SMEs in the region are unable to reach their growth potential because they are too cash-poor to invest in the business and their time is being consumed by chasing invoices.
"And unfortunately, until businesses are given no other option than to pay on time, SMEs are going to continue getting caught up in this inward cycle.”
Many businesses are sceptical about what can be done to alleviate pressure in the short term and are turning to independent finance providers for innovative cash solutions.
Mr Atkinson said: “There is a reason why the alternative lending market has grown substantially over recent years. We have seen a 22% increase in client growth year-on-year as SMEs look to implement invoice-lending arrangements and safeguard their financial positioning for the future.
“Many SMEs rely on invoices being paid on time to cover their overheads or invest in growth and our upfront lending facilities provide a transparent and simple solution. By unlocking cash tied up in unpaid invoices, businesses are able to use that finance to invest in a new plant or machinery for example.”
The Asset Based Finance Association has predicted that asset-based lending to UK and Irish companies will reach £20 billion in 2015 and 80% of that sum will be raised through invoice finance.