BUDGET 2018: WHAT IT MEANS FOR CLACTON

Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, has welcomed the 2018 Budget, which has delivered unprecedented spending, without any tax increases for the hard-working people of the Clacton constituency.

In fact, thanks to earlier than expected increases in the Personal Allowance for Income Tax, 32 million individuals will see their tax bill reduced. Other Budget measures include:

  • An increase in the NHS budget by £20.5bn a year, this amounts to around £600m a week in extra cash. More than Labour promised to invest.
  • A commitment to achieving parity of esteem between mental health and physical health services, so that high quality mental health support is available for those in need. The NHS will invest up to £250m a year by 2023-24 into new services, meaning that mental health funding will grow as a share of the overall NHS budget over the next five years.
  • 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that households with children, and people with disabilities, can earn before their Universal Credit award begins to be withdrawn – the Work Allowance – will be increased by £1,000 from April 2019.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 2.4m households will keep an extra £630 of income each year.
  • The Government has also listened to representations made by stakeholders on Universal Credit, and the Budget includes an extensive package of extra support for claimants as they make the transition to Universal Credit – worth around £1bn.
  • £420m allocated to local authorities in 2018-19 to tackle potholes, repair damaged roads, and invest in keeping bridges open and safe.
  • £1bn more for local councils. This includes £650m for social care, and £84m for children’s social care programmes.
  • An additional £1bn for the Ministry of Defence. Together with the funding announced in March 2018, Defence will benefit from an additional £1.8bn.
  • A new National Roads Fund, worth £28.8bn between 2020-25. The Fund will provide long-term certainty for roads investment, including the new major roads network and large local major roads schemes.
  • £400m more for schools this year. This will be worth £10,000 for the average primary and £50,000 for the average secondary and will help schools buy the equipment they need.
  • Backing high streets by cutting business rates by a third for two years. Rates will be cut by a third for retailers with rateable value under £51,000, saving up to 90 per cent of all shops up to £8,000 each year.
  • Freezing fuel duty for the ninth year running, and freezing duties on beer, cider, and spirits next year.
  • A new 2% tax on the revenues of certain digital businesses to ensure that the amount of tax paid in the UK is reflective of the value they derive from their UK users. This will not be an online sales tax that targets consumers and will raise £440m per year.
  • Banning pensions cold calling, one of the most common methods used to initiate pension fraud. To help protect people from fraudsters, the government is publishing a response to its consultation alongside the Budget and will shortly be implementing legislation to make pensions cold calling illegal.
  • A new 26-30 railcard will be fully introduced by the end of 2018, offering a one-third discount to around 4.4m 26 to 30-year olds in England, Scotland, and Wales.
  • An increase in the National Living Wage by 4.9% from £7.83 to £8.21 from April 2019.
  • Extra funding for the creation of a pensions dashboard. This will help savers with innovative tools that will for the first time allow an individual to see their pension pots, including their State Pension, in one place.
  • £160m more in 2019-20 for counter-terrorism policing to ensure that forces across the country are well equipped to work closely with our communities and keep citizens safe.
  • Investing an additional £13m across the country to improve access to flood information, helping to reduce damage to homes and lives. This includes an expansion to the flood warning system, protecting an additional 1,700 at-risk properties across the East of England.
  • To mark the centenary of the First World War Armistice and the sacrifices made by so many men and women, the government will commit £10m to support veterans with mental health needs and will make available an additional £1m for First World War battlefield visits for school students.
  • The government will also provide up to £8m to help with the cost of repairs and alterations to village halls, Miners’ Welfare facilities and Armed Forces organisations’ facilities
  • The government will provide £1.7m for educational projects in schools to mark the upcoming 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camps.

Thanks to measures like these, overall investment in public services will increase in real terms over the next five years. Public spending will also increase by 1.2 per cent in real terms each year, with precise plans to be set out at the Spending Review next year.

According to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the Government has met its targets for borrowing and debt three years early – the deficit is now down to 1.9 per cent of GDP from almost 10 per cent under Labour, and the national debt fell as a share of GDP this year, to 85 per cent, and will fall in each of the next five years.

The OBR also sets out that there has been “a significant improvement in the underlying pace of deficit reduction” and going forward we will see “relatively stable economic growth – close to 1½ per cent in every year – plus a gradual further decline in the budget deficit and in net debt as a share of GDP.”

OBR projections also set out that:

  • Economic growth has been revised up – the growth forecast for next year has been revised up from 1.3 per cent to 1.6 per cent.
  • Employment has been revised up – with 800,000 more jobs in 2023 than previously forecast.
  • Wages are set to rise above inflation in each of the next five years.

Speaking after the Budget, Giles said:

“The government’s balanced approach to the public finances, and the hard work of the British people, mean that the deficit has fallen to its lowest level since 2001 and debt has started its first sustained fall in a generation.

“And thanks to better than expected growth and tax receipts this year, the Chancellor had money to spend and I am pleased that he spent it in a way that ensures a positive future for us all by investing in public services, supporting businesses, and boosting living standards across the country.

“I will do my level best to ensure that we in Clacton get our much-deserved share of the £28.8bn National Roads Fund.