Chancellor George Osborne has pledged his commitment to businesses in his first keynote speech of the year, insisting that "Britain is on the rise".
In a speech at component manufacturer Sertec's head office in Birmingham, Osborne insisted that the Conservatives' swathe of cuts across the public sector was working but that more time was needed in order to complete the party's masterplan of fixing the economy.
Osborne reiterated the government's plan to improve the UK's economy, which revolves around five key aims: cutting the deficit, reducing taxes for those in work, capping immigration and welfare, improving schools and creating more jobs by supporting businesses.
He said a key factor in the country's growth was investing in and enabling the UK's businesses to flourish.
"If we are going to go on being a country where companies grow, invest and want to take on new people, then we've got to make ourselves the best place in the world to do business," he said.
"That's why I'm cutting business taxes, introducing an employment allowance that will benefit small firms most. It's why I'm helping with high street business rates and now I'm abolishing jobs tax altogether for those aged under 21."
Last September, Labour leader Ed Miliband said he wanted his party to better represent small business and that he would increase corporation tax if Labour won next year's election.
In his speech today, Osborne said that would be an "own goal for Britain".
"[Labour] say businesses should pay more with a higher corporate tax rate," he said.
"I think that would send a disastrous signal to the rest of the world about the direction Britain was heading in. It would cost jobs and investment. It would be a massive own goal for Britain."
Over the weekend, the Financial Times reported that top US tech firms Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon and Google had paid only £54m collectively in UK corporation tax in 2012, despite their relatively much higher sales figures.
Elsewhere in his first address of 2014, Osborne said there were signs that Britain is "on the rise" but that the country's return to prosperity is still a long way off.
"So it's far too soon to say: job done. It's not even half done," he said. "That's why 2014 is the year of hard truths. The year when Britain faces a choice.
"Do we say: the worst is over; back we go to our bad habits of borrowing and spending and living beyond our means, and let the next generation pay the bill? Or do we say to ourselves: yes, because of our plan, things are getting better.
"...The plan is working. For the first time in a long time, there's a real sense that Britain is on the rise."
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