Three cheers for a Budget which delivered so many of the things which local people told me they wanted to see. I believe support for the high streets in our small market towns will be especially welcome.
Cutting business rates by a third for two years, for retailers with a rateable value of under £51,000, will save up to 90 per cent of all shops up to £8,000 each year.
Then there was support for our pubs, with freezes in beer, cider and spirits duty for another year, as well as a freeze on fuel duty for the ninth year, saving the average car driver a cumulative £1,000 since 2010.
There were tax cuts across the board, with a promised cut in income tax coming one year early, allowing people to keep more of what they earn.
But there was also help for the poorest, with an extra £1.7billion a year to benefit working families on Universal Credit – which many of my constituents had lobbied me about – while the National Living Wage was increased.
On top of the very large spending increase on the NHS, there was also extra money for defence, social care, and potholes.
The poor state of our local roads is frequently raised with me, so again I think this will be welcome in West Sussex.
|Also in the news - a Worthing mother has described relying on foodbanks while waiting for her first Universal Credit payment as ‘traumatic’; a consultation period on the merger between Chichester College Group and Worthing College has launched; and ‘brave and heroic’ police officers have been praised for catching a balaclava-clad robber in Horsham|
Having held a local summit on young people’s mental health last year, hearing directly from constituents about the need for more support, I was pleased to see that a substantial part of the new money for the NHS is being allocated to improve mental health services.
These spending increases have been possible without raising taxes not because, as some commentators characterised it, ‘money was found down the back of the sofa’.
They have been made possible because of prudent management of the public finances, improved economic growth, faster debt reduction and strong job creation.
Of course, there are always more demands for spending, and I think both schools and the police will have to be looked at in the spending review next year.
If we get a good Brexit deal next year there will be a bounce and further ability to invest in public services, and I hope also room to reduce the tax burden.
That would be consistent with the balanced approach to the economy which the Government has been taking.
You can find further information, including the highlights of my diary each week, on my website: www.nickherbert.com.
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