This was a Budget with a whole range of eye-catching measures, helping working families, easing the introduction of Universal Credit and providing real investment in our public services.
Most significantly, 30 million people have been given a tax cut. I warmly welcome the Chancellor’s decision to raise the allowance of tax-free earnings to £12,500, a full year sooner than planned. It means a typical basic-rate taxpayer will pay £1,205 less next year than they did in 2010.
The increase in the National Living Wage is also good news. It’s going up by 5% from £7.83 to £8.21, giving a pay rise of nearly £700 a year to a full-time worker.
Another very welcome measure, particularly in a rural area like North Devon, is the announcement that fuel duty is being frozen again. That’s the ninth year running that the planned price rises have been scrapped, saving the average car driver £1000.
When it comes to Universal Credit, this began to be rolled out in North Devon in July. I’ve been involved in regular meetings with many local organisations to make sure as much assistance as possible is given to claimants. So I particularly welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of an additional £1.7 billion to help working families as they transition on to Universal Credit. And the work allowance – that’s the amount families can earn before losing benefits – is being increased by £1000, worth £630 to average households.
On investment in public services, thanks to our careful management of the economy, the Chancellor confirmed that we can fully fund the promised extra £20 billion for the NHS without raising taxes. There was also more money for schools, a big review of police budgets to come in a few weeks, and extra cash to help local councils repair potholes. All those announcements will be very well received in North Devon.
Overall this was a Budget aimed at helping working families and investing in our public services, made possible by everyone’s hard work during a difficult few years. I welcome the Chancellor’s measures and look forward to supporting them, while continuing to fight to make sure North Devon gets our fair share.