This is a progress Budget, says North East Bedfordshire MP

Alistair Burt MP.

Alistair Burt MP. - Credit: Archant

North East Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt gives his thoughts on Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget statement, which was delivered on Monday.

I was pleased to hear confirmation that the OBR 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 while 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.

Key points that particularly resonated with me included that authorities in England are to get an extra £650 million of grant funding for 2019/20 to bolster social care. As a former health minister this is very welcome.

Another was that the Prime Minister’s NHS commitment is to be fully funded. 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 by 2023-24, and an average real growth rate in the NHS’s budget of 3.4 per cent a year.

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Regarding air ambulance services getting £10m, 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. The rise of the personal allowance to £12,500 and higher rate threshold to £50,000 one year early will save a typical basic rate taxpayer £130 and nearly 1 million fewer people will pay the higher rate of income tax – and this is welcome news.

In addition, I know a lot of us will be pleased to see the Digital Services Tax, ensuring large digital firms pay a fair share of tax to support our public services.

Two further points that will be good news in NE Bedfordshire: increasing the National Living Wage by nearly five 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 by £1,000, worth £630 per year to those households.

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.

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