The Chancellor delivered his latest Budget yesterday with plenty of good news for constituents across South West Devon.
I am pleased that the Government is continuing to prioritise work on the sea wall at Dawlish. Shoring up the cliff and seawall is crucial to the future resilience of the existing train line. I will keep pressing the Government to ensure we see our fair share of funding for this crucial piece of infrastructure in the South West.
My constituency has many high streets of varying sizes who will benefit from the announcement of investment in these crucial parts of our local communities. By delivering a more competitive tax regime for businesses, high street shops will be enabled to be as flexible as possible in adapting to changing shopping habits. The Future High Streets Fund will see an investment of £675 million for local areas to support redevelopment and increase access to high streets. I look forward to seeing how this new funding might benefit high streets such as Ivybridge, the Ridgeway in Plympton and the Broadway in Plymstock.
Much has been said in recent weeks and months about the impact of the roll out of Universal Credit (UC) on individuals and families. The Budget has set out a number of new measures to ensure that the delivery of UC is as smooth as possible and as pain free to recipients as possible.
Below is an excerpt from the 'Red Book', the 2018 Budget in full which you can read for yourself here if you're interested.
"The government is committed to a welfare system that ensures work always pays, protects the most vulnerable, and is fair to the taxpayer and sustainable for the future. The Budget provides additional support for people transferring onto Universal Credit, and an increase in the Work Allowance that will mean 2.4 million households keep more of their income.
"While increasing productivity is the only way to raise living standards in the long term, the Budget goes further to help people now. This includes raising the National Living Wage to £8.21 an hour in April 2019, as well as supporting consumers to make their money go further.
"Universal Credit Work Allowance increase – The Budget announces that the amount that households with children, and people with disabilities can earn before their Universal Credit award begins to be withdrawn – the Work Allowance – will be increased by £1,000 from April 2019. This means that 2.4 million households will keep an extra £630 of income each year.
"Extra help for households moving onto Universal Credit – The government has listened to representations made by stakeholders on Universal Credit, and the Budget announces an extensive package of extra support for claimants as they make the transition to Universal Credit.
"Building on the Autumn Budget 2017 announcement that Housing Benefit claimants will receive an additional payment providing a fortnight’s worth of support during their transition to Universal Credit, the government will extend this provision to cover the income-related elements of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance, and Income Support. This will be effective from July 2020, and benefit around 1.1 million claimants.
"To support the transition to Universal Credit for all self-employed people, the government is also extending the 12-month grace period (the period before the Minimum Income Floor applies) to all gainfully self-employed people; giving claimants time to grow their businesses to a sustainable level. This will be introduced from July 2019 and implemented fully from September 2020.
"From October 2019, the government will reduce the maximum rate at which deductions can be made from a Universal Credit award from 40% to 30% of the standard allowance. This will ensure that those on Universal Credit are supported to repay debts in a more sustainable and manageable way. From October 2021, the government will also increase the period over which advances will be recovered, from 12 to 16 months." (Page 77)
Back in the summer, the Government announced more funding for the NHS budget and and to local council budgets to provide additional funding for social care for older people and vulnerable young people.
This Budget includes even more funding for the NHS. Money is going to be invested in mental health services in England to promote the parity of esteem between physical and mental health services. One key announcement will see an even better provision of mental health services in event A&E department and for more specialist mental health ambulances to be available. I welcome this vital additional funding and look forward to seeing this work in action.
Finally, the introduction of the increased Personal Allowance, increasing the point at which those in work start to pay tax to £12,500 from the 2019-20 tax year. This is a year earlier than planned and means people can keep more of what they earn.