Yesterday in Parliament the Chancellor presented the Government’s Budget to the House of Commons. The Budget has great significance to many of my constituents and local businesses so I wanted to write this short piece to inform you about the significant announcements in the Budget. You can find the full Budget at the below web address.
This Budget will lock in the economic progress that has been made over the past eight years and will repay the hard work of the British people. The deficit which stood at £147billion in 2010 has fallen by 80%, borrowing is at its lowest level since 2001 and our national debt is finally falling, but of course, there is still more work to do.
Unemployment has continued to fall. I have long campaigned for more good jobs for Norwich and I am pleased to see that unemployment at its lowest level since 1975 with youth unemployment halving since 2010. In addition to this wage growth is its strongest for 10 years meaning people in Norwich have more money in their pockets.
Since last year’s Budget, we have provided £60 billion for priorities like skills, housing, infrastructure, and social care, announced the ninth consecutive fuel duty freeze, and pledged over £20.5 billion extra for the NHS by 2023-24.
It is only through a strong economy that we receive the revenue to invest in our public services and that is why I am pleased that the Government has put business at the heart of the recovery. I am pleased to see businesses are thriving nationally and locally because this is what employs people and jobs give people the chance to provide for themselves and their families.
The Budget provided more good news for our local businesses here in Norwich as the Chancellor has pledged to cut business rates by a third for the next two years. Rates will be cut by a third for retailers with rateable value under £51,000, saving up to 90% of all shops up to £8,000 each year.
As your constituency MP, I recognise the importance of our small and local businesses that is why I welcome the Chancellors announcement of £1.5bn for high street retailers, boosting Britain’s infrastructure with investment in new technologies to revive our high streets.
In conjunction with the help for the high street, the Chancellor is introducing a 2% Digital Services Tax which will ensure large, global tech firms pay a fair share of tax to support our public services and local high streets. I passed many constituents views on this issue to the Chancellor and I am pleased the Government have acted.
Many constituents were also concerned about the concept of personal debts and excessively high-interest rates. I am pleased to see that today the Chancellor unveiled zero-interest loans to help the millions of people trapped in a cycle of problem debt caused by borrowing from high-cost providers such as payday lenders.
As you may know, the good news for the NHS was confirmed as the Government have pledged an extra £20.5bn funding by 2023-2024. The Chancellor today confirmed a £2bn boost for mental health funding by 2023-24 helping the most vulnerable get the mental health support they need.
This extra funding will make available comprehensive mental health support in every major A&E department, more mental health ambulances and dedicated teams in schools. Additional funds will go towards improving upon crisis services such as round the clock phone lines as well as crisis hubs. We have a new crisis hub due to open up here in Norwich at Churchman House.
The Chancellor has also abolished the use of PFI and PF2 for future projects to deliver value for the taxpayer. The Government will honour existing contracts, but the days of the public sector being a pushover must end.
Turning to social care, the Chancellor has ensured that Local Governments have necessary resources to deliver high quality public services. The Government is giving councils greater autonomy over the funds they raise and building on from the £240million for social care winter pressures announced earlier this month, the Chancellor will make available a further £650million grant funding for local authorities to fund social care over the winter period. We have already had the good news for us here in Norfolk that a further £4,178,678 will be available for adult social care in Norfolk this winter.
I am proud of the moves taken since 2010 to improve standards in our schools and now 86% of Schools are rated good or outstanding. In the Budget the Chancellor announced schools will receive a lump sum of £400 million. The Government are allocating £10,000 to the average primary and £50,000 to the average secondary to help schools buy the equipment they need.
As you may be aware, early in the year the Prime Minister announced that the Government would be removing the housing revenue account cap so councils can help build some the homes the country needs.
The Chancellor announced an additional £500 million into the Housing Infrastructure Fund, which is currently helping to get the Mile Cross depot site underway for hundreds of local homes here in Norwich.
When I am out canvassing one of the issues which gets raised with me time and time again is that of potholes. That is why I am pleased the Government has made available £420 million available immediately via an uplift in the Highways Maintenance block grant to help tackle potholes, bridge repairs, and other minor works. £150 million will also be made available to improve traffic hotspots such as roundabouts.
As many will be aware, Universal Credit is due to be rolled out in Norwich this month. As I have said previously, Universal Credit will improve our benefits system and ensure work always pays. I welcome the additional £1.7 billion per year to benefit working families on Universal Credit, this will help the transition of many people in Norwich onto Universal Credit.
I will be providing more, in-depth blog pieces about the Budget as the week progresses. This has been a positive budget that recognises the difficult decisions that have been taken and starts planning for the future. Although austerity is ending, it does not mean a return to reckless spending of the past. I will continue my work in government campaigning on the issues that matter most to us here in Norwich North.