MP’s column - Belt tightening has to be shared around country

At Treasury questions recently, I asked ministers what they can do to reduce the burden of tax-based bureaucracy for small businesses in the East Midlands.

I was glad to hear the Financial Secretary to the Treasury report that the government had delivered £272 million of reductions in administrative burdens between 2011 and 2015, but we still have one of the largest tax codes in the world.

The more complicated our tax code is the more it is tilted in favour of large corporations who are able to hire entire departments to demystify and take advantage of this nebulous web of regulations.

We need less taxation and simpler taxation to help our small business grow and thrive.

Another problem we’re trying to confront is the issue of fairer funding for Lincolnshire.

Despite improvement in recent years, the fact remains that there is still a disparity in funding for primarily rural areas like ours when compared to larger metropolitan areas on a per head basis.

We need to make sure our schools, infrastructure, and local services are adequately funded.

Given the huge debts incurred under the last Labour government, it’s perfectly understandable that we have needed to tighten our belts in the past few years, otherwise we risk burdening today’s young people and future generations with a massive bill we have refused to pay for.

But this belt-tightening has to be shared equally around the country.

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with the Communities and Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid, along with fellow county MPs Matt Warman, Victoria Atkins, and Dr Caroline Johnson.

I’m glad that a more concerted effort is now being made to address this issue.

Elected representatives and officials from all levels of government here in Lincolnshire are coming together to urge the government to close this funding gap.

I have to admit, I’ve been disappointed by the recent decision not to make a decision about renovating the Palace of Westminster.

This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, not to mention one of the most important historic buildings in the whole United Kingdom.

It is an architectural wonder created through the genius of the architects Barry and Pugin.

Management consultants have created a plan for renovation that is needlessly expensive – for example building a new Commons chamber that would be permanent even though it would only be used temporarily while the Palace is being renovated.

I arranged for an independent architect, working pro bono, to come in and look at their plans.

He figured out a new option that would deliver considerable savings and allow both the Lords and Commons to continue to meet in this historic place, even while all the other offices and rooms were cleared out for renovation.

We were first told works would start in 2020, but now they have been pushed back until 2025. Instead, I have argued that the government should bring this works ahead rather than delay them.

We must make sure this architectural gem is preserved for future generations.

Sir Edward Leigh MP

Gainsborough Constituency

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