Wetherby MP Alec Shelbrooke writes exclusively for the Wetherby News on what last week’s Budget means for the town.
The Chancellor’s Budget is a win for Wetherby. With austerity coming to an end, the hard work of the British people is now paying off. Our balanced approach to the public finances now means we can invest in public services, whilst delivering tax cuts for working people.
Having to deal with the worst financial crash in modern history hasn’t been easy for workers, so I’m pleased that this Budget gives back to those who helped get our economy growing again. Working people on all salaries – and pensioners – will be better off from this Budget.
By raising the tax-free personal allowance on income to £12,500, the Chancellor has not only delivered a manifesto pledge one year earlier than planned, but he has also delivered a tax cut for 32 million people, whilst taking 1.7 million of the lowest-paid workers out of tax altogether.
Typical basic rate taxpayers will now be £1,205 better off than in 2010, and by raising the higher rate threshold to £50,000 many workers who were previously caught in the middle tax bracket – including teachers, police officers and NHS staff, will no longer pay the forty per cent tax rate.
Governments can only deliver tax cuts for working people and invest in public services if we have a strong economy.
That’s why it is good news that we now have more people in work than ever before, with unemployment in my constituency down to just one per cent of the working population.
With another 800,000 jobs predicted nationally by 2023 – and with wages set to rise further in real terms, we have good reason to believe that our economy will continue to strengthen in the years to come.
But it’s not just income tax cuts that help put more money back in the pockets of the public, the Chancellor has frozen fuel duty for a ninth year, delivering a saving of £1,000 for the average motorist since 2010.
Our local roads are set to see some improvements too, with a further £420 million for fixing potholes.
For those who enjoy a tipple on a weekend (or a weeknight), duty on beer, cider and spirits has also been frozen, saving consumers and helping our local pubs.
But for me, the two stand out announcements for Wetherby came on schools and health.
The Government’s long-term plan for the NHS means our local health services will see a boost of £20.5 billion more every year by 2023/24, helping to reduce lengthy waiting times and make care more widely available.
That’s over £400 million a week extra for the NHS delivered as promised.
And for schools, the Budget commits £39 billion; a record amount of spending on education.
This extra investment is clearly working with more pupils now registered in good and outstanding schools than ever before, and poorer performing schools continuing to improve year-on-year.
This Budget doesn’t solve all the problems our country faces today and there’s always room for improvement, but additional investment in public services, record high employment and tax cuts for low and middle earners feels like a Conservative Budget delivering for Britain.