Sir Edward LeighMain Page: Sir Edward Leigh (Conservative) - Gainsborough)
Department Debates - View all Sir Edward Leigh's debates with the HM Treasury
I thank my hon. Friend for his question. Of course we recognise the importance of SMEs—there are 5.6 million businesses across the country with fewer than 10 employees, and we need their dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit as the economy starts to recover. The Government have said from the start that they will do whatever it takes to support business. The Chancellor has introduced a significant package of measures, which will be under review, and there will be further announcements in due course.
Inheritance tax makes an important contribution to the Exchequer. The current threshold of up to £1 million for a qualifying married couple or civil partnership means that 96% of all estates in 2020-21 are forecast to be able to pass on their assets without any inheritance tax liability. Any reform or simplification of inheritance tax would be considered as part of the usual Budget process.
I hesitate to give my right hon. Friend a history lesson, but he will recall that Ronald Reagan was a deep admirer of FDR and quite a heavy spender in his own right. Inheritance tax is paid on only one in 25 estates, and therefore it is not quite as large an issue in terms of the number of people affected as my right hon. Friend suggests. We take these issues very seriously and return to them recurrently at fiscal events.