Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, has welcomed the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget and Spending Review, which provides the foundations for a stronger economy in the East of England as the country continues its recovery from the pandemic.
Measures that will benefit Clacton and Essex include over £411 million for local roads maintenance over the next three years, over £87 million for smaller transport improvement priorities through the Integrated Transport Block, and a share of £24 billion for strategic road upgrades.
£87 million will also be delivered for five projects through the first tranche of the Conservative Government’s £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund – including £19.9 million to upgrade coastal attractions. The Budget also confirmed that five new Community Diagnostic Centres will be built across the East of England in 2021-22, expanding diagnostic capacity across the country whilst targeting investment at areas of deprivation.
The East of England will also benefit from a share of the £2.6 billion UK Shared Prosperity Fund – focused on helping people into jobs and supporting businesses across the UK – £560 million funding for the Youth Investment Fund and National Citizen Service, and £5 billion for Project Gigabit, rolling out gigabit capable broadband for homes and businesses across the UK.
Other nationwide measures that will benefit people in Clacton include a significant tax cut for low-income families by reducing the Universal Credit taper rate from 63 per cent to 55 per cent, a 6.6 per cent increase in the National Living Wage to £9.50 an hour – giving a £1,000 pay rise to 2 million of the lowest paid – increasing pay for public sector workers, alongside freezes in fuel and alcohol duty.
Following Giles' campaign in support of pubs, the Chancellor also introduced a new ‘Draught Relief’, which will apply a new, lower rate of duty on draught beer and cider. It will particularly benefit community pubs who do 75% of their trade on draught. It’s not a freeze but will cut duty by 5%. A long-term investment in British pubs of £100m a year.
Businesses will also benefit from other measures, including a 50 per cent cut in business rates next year for 90 per cent of retail, hospitality, and leisure – alongside a freeze of all rates – the creation of new business rates relief to encourage green technologies and improvements to properties, and a doubling of creative industries tax reliefs for the UK’s world-leading theatres, orchestras, museums and galleries.
Other measures to drive economic growth include record investment in our roads, railways and broadband; supporting innovation through a record £20 billion spending on R&D; and a huge uplift in skills training through T-levels, Institutes of Technology, and apprenticeships.
As part of the three-year Spending Review delivered alongside the Budget, total government departmental spending will increase by £150 billion by 2024 – a 3.8 per cent annual real terms increase – the largest real terms increase this century, and record levels of capital investment not seen in 50 years.
This funding increase will help to deliver on the Government’s key manifesto promises, including building 40 new hospitals, recruiting 20,000 police officers, and raising per pupil spending in schools to record levels.
Underpinning these measures, the Budget strengthens the country’s public finances and will get debt falling again, following the £400 billion package of support put in place during the pandemic. The new fiscal rules set out today by the Chancellor will require the government to only borrow to invest and get debt falling by 2024, in line with the Conservative Government’s 2019 manifesto commitment.
Commenting, Giles said:
“Despite the unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic, this Conservative Government is getting on with the job and delivering on the priorities of the British people.
“This Budget will make a real difference to people in Clacton, helping working families with the cost of living, improving transport connections, regenerating communities and improving health outcomes. I am particularly pleased by the new ‘Draught Relief’, the continued support for hospitality businesses, and the positive changes to the National Living Wage and the Universal Credit taper rate – all of these changes will benefit those living in our area.
“I was elected on a promise to level up and improve opportunity for people in the East of England – and today’s Budget shows how this Government is delivering on that promise as we build back better.”
Commenting, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:
“One year ago, this country was in the grip of the biggest recession in 300 years. Thanks to our Plan For Jobs, we are today recovering faster than our major competitors, more people are in work, and growth is up. But uncertainty in the global economy means that recovery is now under threat.
“That is why this Budget and Spending Review delivers a stronger economy for people in the East of England – strengthening our public finances, helping working families meet the cost of living, supporting businesses, delivering stronger public services, and driving economic growth.
“This is a Budget which will level up the East of England. It is a Budget which provides the foundations for a stronger economy.”