Alistair said, “I was pleased to hear confirmation that the Office for Budget Responsibility report a significant upgrade to our public finances, underscoring the strength of the economic recovery we have seen. This is positive news for constituents in NE Bedfordshire balancing household budgets, and extra help for those who currently rely on public funds whilst looking for work or living with disability. The Chancellor is looking towards the end of this era of austerity, but rightly said that discipline has to remain – like anyone balancing their own budget, we have to be cautious.
Some keys points that particularly resonated with me were:
Local authorities in England to get extra £650m of grant funding for 2019/20 to bolster social care. As a former Health Minister this is very welcome and both Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough will benefit significantly.
Fully funding the Prime Minister’s NHS commitment. A large number of constituents have asked me that the cash settlement that was set out in June should be funded by a fair tax rise. However, the improvement in our economic growth forecast means that we can fully fund this, resulting in £20.5 billion more for the NHS in real terms by 2023-24, and an average real growth rate in the NHS’s budget of 3.4 per cent a year.
Air ambulance services to get £10m. I know that many people in NE Beds help to fund our air ambulances and this will be the first time public funding has been made available to assist, a very welcome addition.
Fulfilling our promises on income tax one year early. The rise of the Personal Allowance to £12,500 and Higher Rate Threshold to £50,000 one year early, saving a typical basic rate taxpayer £130 compared to 2018-19 and £1,205 compared to 2010-11. Nearly 1 million fewer people will pay the higher rate of income tax and is welcome news.
Digital Services Tax. Many of you have written to me about large tech and digital companies not fulfilling tax requirements. A new 2 per cent Digital Services Tax will ensure large digital firms pay a fair share of tax to support our public services. From 2020, large social media platforms, search engines and online marketplaces will pay 2 per cent on revenues linked to UK users – I know a lot of us will be very pleased to see this.
Two further points that will be good news in NE Bedfordshire: Increasing the National Living Wage by nearly 5 per cent, from £7.83 to £8.21; and investing an additional £1.7 billion per year to benefit working families on Universal Credit by increasing the work allowance (the money families can earn before losing benefits) by £1,000, worth £630 per year to those households.
All the Budget details are available to see online (https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/budget-2018), and my overall view is that this is a progress Budget, that shows how hard everyone in this country has worked to get the finances back on track, and we can now begin to see a healthy financial future.”