Building a more competitive economy

  • The Rt. Hon. George Osborne MP

    “We know it is only by keeping taxes low and building a more competitive economy that businesses like these can thrive”

Commentary by The Rt. Hon. George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer

This is a remarkable list of outstanding companies. These businesses have been built by the drive, commitment and vision of Britain’s entrepreneurs and business leaders.

It is my privilege to be able to congratulate them all, and to thank London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) for its work. The Alternative Investment Market (AIM) is the most successful growth market in the world. It is why fantastic companies like Just Eat choose to float in London, when they could go anywhere in the world. And we need to keep it that way.

When I became Chancellor in 2010, the economy was in chaos. A record budget deficit and a broken banking system had taken Britain to the brink. I set out our long-term economic plan and set about delivering it.

We can see our plan is working: there are more people in work than ever before, Britain was the fastest-growing major advanced economy last year, and – a testament to LSEG – it is estimated that 2014 was the best year for non-bank capital raising since 2007. This report is yet more proof that our economy is going from strength to strength.

A key part of our plan has been to boost investment, back entrepreneurs and support high-growth companies. We scaled up the Enterprise Investment Scheme and the Venture Capital Trust Schemes in 2012, and we introduced the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) to address the difficulties start-up companies can face in getting seed finance. It has already helped more than 2,000 companies raise over £175m, and we have now made the scheme permanent.

In 2013, we widened the eligibility of ISA investment to include AIM stocks. The impact has been profound. LSEG estimates that up to £4.4bn of ISA investments have been shifted to support high-growth small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) since we opened ISAs up to AIM shares. That is £4.4bn from individual savers being invested in some of the most exciting and inspirational companies this country has to offer. Last year we went further and abolished stamp duty on AIM transactions. Britain also became the first western country to issue a sovereign renminbi bond, and the first non-Islamic country to issue a sukuk bond – both landmark achievements that will keep Britain as the undisputed centre of the global financial system. Every step of the way, LSEG has been championing policies to promote growth and innovation – and its ELITE programme is a great innovation of its own.

I am proud of our record. But there is always more to do. If government creates the right environment, businesses and investors will rise to the challenge. Some in politics want to raise business taxes and intervene in markets. We know it is only by keeping taxes low and building a more competitive economy that businesses like these can thrive. And their success is vital. These companies are the lifeblood of our economy. On average, 1,000 jobs have been created for every day of this Government – and it is down to entrepreneurs and employers like these who personally take the risks and put their necks on the line. The Conservatives understand that. It is why our long-term economic plan has backing business at its heart. And it is only by working through this plan that we will build a stronger, more competitive economy and a brighter future for Britain.