Following yesterday’s budget, I wanted to share with you some of the announcements which I believe to be of particular interest to the residents of Amber Valley. You can read my speech on the budget yesterday here.
Help with the cost of living:
- Increasing the National Living wage in April from £7.83 to £8.21. In real terms, this will deliver a £690 annual pay rise to the average full-time worker on the living wage.
- Personal tax allowances to increase in April 2019 – the amount you can earn before paying tax will increase to £12,500. The government has made repeated increases to Personal allowance, raising it from £6,475 in 2010-11 to £11,850 in 2018-19. You will also have to earn £50,000 before paying the higher rate tax of 40%.
- Fuel duty will be frozen for a ninth successive year, saving the average driver a cumulative £1,000 a year by April 2020
- Beer duty, along with cider and spirits duty have also been frozen saving an average of 2p on every pint of beer and 1p per pint of cider in 2019. This freeze will save brewers, pubs and pub-goers £110 million and secure upwards of 3,000 jobs that would have been lost had beer duty gone up.
Tackling tax avoidance and evasion
Many constituents have contacted me recently on the issue of tax avoidance by large internet companies. I’m delighted to say that, in the absence of an international agreement, the Chancellor has announced a new Digital Services Tax – the first in the world – which will charge the largest online businesses an effective 2% of their revenues raising £400 million.
While there are lots of details to get right to make this effective, while ensuring we support technology start-ups and don’t hit our high streets chains that sell on-line, this is a great step forward in creating a level playing field between traditional retailers and those online. As a member of the Public Accounts Committee, I’ll keep pushing this issue – and the need to ensure we collect the VAT due on online sales – the avoidance of which costs over £1 billion a year.
Supporting the High Street
The Chancellors also announced measures to help the high street which will be of great assistance in Amber Valley, especially to the retailers in Alfeton, Heanor and Ripley. Building on earlier measures to reduce Business Rates, he announced that all shops with a rateable value of £51,000 or under would see their business rates cut by a third until the next revaluation in 2020.
The government will launch a new Future High Streets fund, worth £675million to England, to support local areas to develop and fund plans to make town centres fit for the future.
More money for Schools
Ahead of the full spending review next year, the Chancellor announced an extra £400 million this year for schools’ capital budgets. This is equivalent to £10,000 per primary school and £50,000 per secondary school.
Reforms to Universal Credit to make sure work pays
As a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, over recent weeks I’ve been calling for reforms to Universal Credit to ensure work always pays, and to ease the transition when people move on to the new benefit.
The Chancellor announced that the amount households with children, and people with disabilities, can earn before their Universal Credit award begins to be withdrawn, will be increased by £1,000. In real terms, this means that 2.4 million households will keep an extra £630 of income each year. He also announced that claimants would keep their JSA or ESA for an extra 2 weeks, as was done for housing benefit last year, and that the maximum amount of the basic benefit award that could be used to repay historic benefit debts would be reduced from 40% to 30%. These measures address the main concerns that have arisen on the roll out of UC in Amber Valley in recent months.
Tackling plastic waste
Finally, I agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer; that the UK must become a world leader in tackling the scourge of plastic littering our planet and our oceans. The budget announced a new tax on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging that contains less than 30 per cent recycled plastic, which I believe to be a necessary and welcome change.
With 2 local employers that specialize in producing recycled plastic products, this is an important measure that will encourage the collection of plastic waste and investment in the technology needed to actually recycle it. We’ve already announced measures to reduce plastic waste but this is a welcome step to ensuring the plastic products we do continue to use are dealt with effectively.