Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tories: 1p Cut in National Insurance to Help Firms

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tories: 1p Cut in National Insurance to Help Firms

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY

DAVID CAMERON today urged an immediate 1p cut in National Insurance for small firms to save jobs at risk in the credit crunch.

The reduction in payroll tax would save a small business with four staff about ?100 a month over a six-month trial period, he claimed.

His move, announced at a summit with small-business leaders, came as the political focus turned from the ?500 billion banking bail-out to the imminent danger of massive job losses and home repossessions.

The plight of small firms, hit by punitive 15 per cent bank loan rates and costly red tape, was rising rapidly up the agenda. Mr Cameron said: "Good small firms will be going to the wall unless we give them help."

He said the Tory proposals targeted "the most vulnerable" micro firms: "It would help keep them to keep their employees and get through an extremely tough time."

The Government has signalled it would delay plans to allow 4.5 million parents to demand flexible hours, even though the promise, to people with children under six, was approved by the Labour conference only last month and trumpeted by Gordon Brown.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has ordered a review of all Labour promises that could load extra costs on struggling firms.

Other plans that could be sacrificed may include extending paid maternity leave from 39 to 52 weeks and an extra bank holiday. Mr Mandelson's department would not comment.

A new poll showed the Tory lead has been whittled down to eight points less than half what it was two months ago in the wake of Mr Brown's plaudits for the banking rescue.

The YouGov poll in the Mirror put the Conservatives on 42 per cent, Labour on 34 and the Liberal Democrats on 14.

It found six in 10 felt Mr Brown had handled the financial turmoil well compared with a third who said he had done badly.

Some 40 per cent backed Labour to handle the economy, compared with 28 per cent preferring the Tories. …

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