James has welcomed the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget, which included an increase in NHS and mental health funding, measures to help more people onto the housing ladder and important investment into local communities and high streets.
The Statement reported that the forecast for economic growth has been revised up alongside the deficit being reduced by over three-quarters since 2010 with the Government meeting its borrowing and debt targets three years early. The unemployment rate is also at its lowest for over 40 years with over 3.3 million more people in work since 2010. Overall investment in public services will increase in real terms over the next five years, with spending increasing 1.2% in real terms each year.
The Chancellor announced a set of measures that provide support to local communities and businesses. Councils will receive an additional £650 million for social care, as well as £84 million for children’s social care. The Chancellor also committed £420 million for potholes and £150 million to improve local traffic hotspots. High streets and local businesses are also set to gain from the Chancellor’s announcements with a commitment to cut business rates by one third which will mean saving up to 90% of all shops up to £8,000 each year. Local high streets will benefit from £675 million to improve transport links and re-develop empty shops which will support plans for the transformation of high streets.
The Statement also set out measures to help build homes and support home ownership. This includes abolishing the Housing Revenue Account cap that controls local authority borrowing for house building which will enable councils to increase building to around 10,000 homes per year. This is coupled with an additional £500 million put into the Housing Infrastructure Fund to unlock thousands of new homes. The Statement also committed over £7.2 billion to a new Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme to support 110,000 new homebuyers in England, as well as abolishing stamp duty retrospectively for first-time buyers of all shared ownership properties up to £300,000, helping more people to get a foot on the housing ladder.
Funding for the NHS will go up by £20.5 billion a year as part of the NHS long-term plan, as well as an additional £2 billion per year for mental health services. This means more mental health ambulances, increased community support and comprehensive support at every major A&E by 2024.
On top of these important measures, the Chancellor also underlined the Government’s commitment to supporting low earners. A further increase to the National Living Wage from £7.83 to £8.21 will deliver a £690 annual pay rise to a full-time worker. The increase in the Personal Tax Allowance to £12,500 will again take more low earners out of income tax altogether. The increase in the Higher Rate Threshold to £50,000 also means nearly 1 million fewer people will pay the higher rate of income tax.
Commenting following the Chancellor’s statement, James said:
“I welcome the Chancellor’s statement, which sets out a clear path toward further reduction of the deficit, whilst providing greater investment and support to our key public services, businesses and workers.”
“This is a budget for communities, with investment in our town centres to revitalise Britain’s high streets and a near £1 billion boost for councils to help deliver the services their communities need and support vulnerable residents.”
“There is welcome news on housing, with measures designed to build the homes communities need and help more people onto the housing ladder.”
“Importantly, the changes to the Personal Tax Allowance and the increase in the National Living Wage will support the lowest earners and allow all of us to keep more of the money that we earn.”