The Chancellor announced the outcome of his Spending Review to Parliament this afternoon, outlining departmental spending for the year ahead and the Government’s vision for the future of Britain. The Spending Review is the occasion when the Chancellor sets out public spending plans for the Parliament – and in this case where savings will come from to ensure we are no longer spending more than the tax revenues raised, as we promised in the General Election earlier this year.
While there are various announcements which will be difficult for many people, overall I welcomed the Chancellor’s statement and I am sure many of my constituents will welcome his announcements too – with extra funding commitments for the police and defence and further investment in housing, infrastructure, education and healthcare.
This Government has had to make difficult decisions to secure future economic growth and reduce the national debt as a result of the deficit left by the last Labour Government. This Statement marked a significant moment in the job to fix the nation’s finances as the Government moves from the job of rescuing Britain announcing funding for measures to help rebuild Britain – rebuilding our finances and our society, building on progress we have already made, whilst embarking on ambitious reforms to public services.
As many of you already know, I have expressed concern about the changes to tax credits outlined in the Chancellor’s Summer Budget earlier this year – I know many of you that would have been affected by these proposed changes have also contacted me to express your concern.
I am glad that the Chancellor has listened to these concerns and despite constraints on the nation’s budget and public finances, he has been able to scrap the planned phased changes to tax credits altogether. I am sure this will come as a welcome relief to those on the lowest incomes who I was concerned would not have sufficient transitional support. It is right that we ensure people feel the full impact of the National Living Wage due to be introduce next year and the planned personal allowance changes before we make any changes to such benefits and I welcome this.
I am delighted that there will be no cuts to the police budget at all, I support the Chancellor’s announcement and due to tough decisions elsewhere, this Government is committed to ensuring Police forces receive the funding they need to keep us safe. This announcement comes alongside a 30 per cent increase in the counter-terrorism budget, bolstering the capabilities in our arsenal to help keep our country safe.
This Government believes in supporting people who have worked hard and contributed to our society – that’s why this Government remains committed to ensuring pensioners are supported in retirement. In today’s statement the Chancellor announced the biggest real terms rise in the basic state pension in 15 years. The triple lock, introduced in the last Parliament, means that the State Pension will rise by £3.35 to £119.30 per week next year, this means pensioners now £1,125 better off and better support than they were when this Government came to office.
The Chancellor also announced that the full rate for the new single tier pension for new pensioners from April next year is set at £155.65. I warmly welcome this support for those who have given so much to our society.
The Chancellor announced a half a trillion pound commitment to the NHS over this Parliament – the largest investment since the NHS was created. This Spending Review delivered a £10 billion increase in the NHS budget in real terms, with the first £6billion to be delivered up-front next year – fully funding the Five Year Forward View put forward by the NHS. I also welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement to increase funding to mental health services which will receive £600 million in additional funding.
Supporting people to get on the property ladder and to be able to own their own home remains a priority for this Government and today the chancellor announced the biggest house building programme by any government since the 1970s, with a doubling of the housing budget to over £2 billion a year. This will help to deliver 400,000 affordable new homes by the end of the decade helping more people to get on the property ladder and be able to own their own home.
Right to Buy
Many constituents have contacted me about this Government’s commitment to extending the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants to give 1.3 million families the chance to own their own home.
To deliver on our election manifesto promise, this Government is now working closely with the housing sector on the implementation of the deal, and the Spending Review announced the launch of a pilot scheme with five Housing Associations, to inform the design of the final scheme.
I welcome this step, and the confirmation that the first housing association tenants will be able to start to buy their homes from next year. Receipts from selling current properties will help housing associations build additional houses on a one-for-one basis.
To ensure our children receive the best education the Chancellor announced real terms protection of the schools budget. The Government also announced that it will maintain funding for free infant school meals, protect rates for the pupil premium, and increase the cash in the dedicated schools grant – bolster support for schools and ensuring all students get the support they need to succeed.
The Chancellor also announced funding to open 500 new free schools and University Technical Colleges, and investment of over £23 billion in school buildings and to support 600,000 new school places.
To support working families to afford high quality childcare, from 2017, this Government will fund 30 hours of free childcare for working families with three and four year olds and support £10,000 of childcare costs tax-free and increase funding for nurseries by £300 million alongside this.
The Chancellor also announced that the new apprenticeship levy will deliver 3 million apprenticeships and ensure large businesses share the cost of training. I welcome that businesses with a wage bill below £3 million won’t have to pay which will ensure large employers help to support high quality apprenticeships alongside Government support.
Apprenticeships provide a fantastic opportunity for young people to learn the skills they need to get on in life, and under this Government over 5,130 people have taken up an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are a great way for young people to learn and I have recently taken on an apprentice in my constituency office. I am firmly of the belief that they are a great way for people to learn and train while they earn and welcome this further support.
Judging from the amount of emails I receive on this subject I am sure my constituents will also welcome the Chancellors commitment to a National Pothole Fund. This support ill fill over 4.5million potholes – this will go a long way to tackle this problem in Amber Valley! As always, please contact me about any potholes on the roads here in Amber Valley and I will ensure these are reported to the council and that this extra funding has a lasting impact on our roads!
I thoroughly welcome the Chancellor’s announcement. You can read more about the Spending Review and the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement here.