Norfolk MP George Freeman leads call for ‘age of enterprise’

PUBLISHED: 10:35 30 September 2013 | UPDATED: 10:35 30 September 2013

MP George Freeman at the A47.  Picture: Denise Bradley

MP George Freeman at the A47. Picture: Denise Bradley

copyright: Archant 2013

Tax should be axed for start-up companies to help hubs like the Norwich Research Park, Norfolk MP George Freeman will say today in a bold speech calling for the government to promote an “age of enterprise”.

On the day of chancellor George Osborne’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference, the Mid-Norfolk MP will call for National Insurance, tax and big company regulation to be scrapped for new businesses to help them get off the ground.

Mr Freeman said the move was key if science from places like the Norwich Research Park is to be commercialised and could have a big impact by lowering the barriers for new companies.

The government has given the Norwich Research Park £26m to expand and it is hoped that new companies could be spun out from the research institutions, as well as attracting more established businesses.

Mr Freeman said: “I know from first hand experience over a 15-year career starting my own and then financing other people’s start ups that the fear of government rules, regulations and tax registration soaks up a load of the entrepreneur’s focus and energy when it is in all of our interests that they are focussed on developing their innovation.”

He said that if the government “got off their backs” in the first year or two, until a sensible turnover threshold was reached, higher income would be reached more quickly.

Mr Freeman, who advises the government on life sciences, will tell a conference of entrepreneurs in Westminster that a toxic legacy of debt, bureaucracy and under-investment is holding Britain back.

The former venture capitalist, who has been lobbying the chancellor over his plans, will be speaking at the Global Entrepreneurs Conference in Westminster on the day the economy is on the agenda at the party conference 200 miles away in Manchester.

Mr Freeman said his tax plan should be self-financing because the “very low” National Insurance and VAT receipts that come from start-up companies would be offset by faster growth.

He said: “While Treasury officials are likely to be cautious of any tax cuts at a time when the Treasury is trying increase tax and reduce expenditure, there is good evidence that lowering taxes on investment and business creation actually generates higher levels of revenue to the Treasury from increased economic activity.”

During the speech Mr Freeman will ask the Chancellor to make Britain the best place on earth to start a new business by “replacing an economy erected on the sand of government spending with one built on the rock of innovation and opportunity”.

He will say: “No longer the rigged market of golden handshakes and bungled pay-offs, but reward for merit and risk, for a job well done not a job well spun. No longer London and the rest, but embracing the full potential of our regions, from one-person village start-ups, to town shops and city firms.”

He will also tell the London conference: “It’s time to get off the backs of the people who are creating the jobs, businesses and prosperity we all rely on. By exempting fast growing new businesses from red tape and tax we will help them grow faster and generate more jobs.”

And say the financial crisis exposed the “existing fault-lines” in the economy. Mr Freeman said entrepreneurship should not be “extra-curricular”, but should be at the heart of our education system.

The event today will also see the launch of EntrepreneurCountry Global, an affiliate network in 13 countries around the world with a mission to connect high growth start-ups with large corporates to help trade, partnerships, investments.

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