Once again, the UK finds itself in dangerous economic straits. We deal with small business owners every day, and it is clear that it is this community that will help lead us to recovery. It is therefore disappointing to see ministers doing down the country’s entrepreneurs.
Mr Gauke is right to highlight the importance to the Exchequer of the UK’s small firms. Small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of the economy, and it is these businesses that will return us to growth.
The vast majority of small business owners pay their share and are happy to do so. To suggest that tax avoidance is the default mode for tradesmen is both incorrect and offensive. To suggest that cash in hand payments are as significant a problem as the wholesale tax avoidance practiced by some high-profile corporations is absurd.
On Saturday it was revealed that the super-rich are hiding as much as £13 trillion in offshore tax havens. If the government is really concerned about damage to the Exchequer it should spend more time closing the loopholes that enable this, and less time undermining trust in the country’s small businesses.