• Busy

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    14 July 2017

    As a Treasury minister my diary is constantly under pressure. Much of my time is spent learning – and there is much to learn. I have ministerial strategic oversight of our tax system including direct and indirect business and personal taxation and indirect taxes such as VAT. I look after our customs policy and I am responsible for HMRC (the tax man), an organisation that employs around 60,000 people. I also deputise for the Chief Secretary on public spending matters. So, currently on a daily basis I have meetings with civil servants to get up to speed on the detail, both on how these areas of taxation work but also to gain an understanding of the options for future changes given the government’s objectives. My view is that tax should be fair (the top 1% of earners now pay a record 27% of income tax), as simple as possible (though simplification is tricky not least when changes often create losers) and paid (meaning that we need to keep pressing hard to clamp down on tax avoidance – since 2010 we have introduced 75 avoidance measures and have raised £150 billion as a result which is 3 times the amount of our annual deficit). Then there are sessions looking at the legislation that is coming down the line and for which I will be the lead minister. This includes the finance bill that follows on from the last budget, a customs bill that will ensure that we are ready for the changes to our customs arrangements on the day we leave the EU (29th March 2019) even though at this stage we do not know precisely what we are going to face as the deal remains to be done and it is not yet clear whether this will be on the basis of a clean break or alongside a transition period. I will also lead on a National Insurance bill. There are also frequent meetings with officials to discuss on-going issues – the performance of HMRC for example. I have a session on a Monday morning to go through media issues and opportunities. Last week I addressed around 200 tax specialists at the Chartered Institute of Taxation’s annual reception. There is a huge volume of correspondence much of which comes via other members of parliament who pass on letters from their constituents. I am working with officials to improve response times. I review all written parliamentary questions from MPs where they relate to my area and agree the response to each. Across the road from the Treasury in Parliament I have duties in the Commons. Last week in the Chamber I introduced the government estimates (authorising the government to spend money). Next week I will be answering a debate on public expenditure. I also have a very significant constituency workload – there is always a large volume of correspondence and casework along with key issues to keep pressing on such as local healthcare which last week saw me in further discussion with NEW CCG.