Yesterday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer unveiled the Budget for the forthcoming financial year, setting out how the Government will deliver its objectives and the measures the Government will take to support those affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
Over recent months, our community’s commitment to supporting our valuable high streets has been prominent and I was pleased to see the Chancellor outline a number of measures to support high-street businesses. The Chancellor announced a fundamental review of business rates, which will report in autumn, measures to reduce employer’s National Insurance Contributions, which will benefit over 500,000 businesses and a £28m package to support entrepreneurs and new businesses. During disruption caused by COVID-19, the Government will bring forward Statutory Sick Pay support for small and medium-sized businesses, suspending business rates for one year for qualifying firms as well as temporary loan scheme for small and medium-sized businesses.
The Government has also committed £27bn between now and 2025 to improve vital transport routes, which includes the Lower Thames Crossing. Constituents will be aware that the Lower Thames Crossing is currently conducting a further consultation on supplementary changes to the proposals. The consultation runs until 25 March and details on how you may contribute can be found on my website.
The budget also confirms significant increases in the investment in public services already announced by the Government representing the largest cash increase in public services since the Second World War. In addition to increased health and Police funding, to provide 50m more GP surgery appointments and 6,000 new police officers by the end of 2021, the budget provides £1.5bn to improve Further Education Colleges and £119m per annum to fund arts activities in secondary schools and boost PE in primary schools. As the impact of the Coronavirus becomes known, the Chancellor committed to provide any extra resources needed by the NHS and other public services to tackle the virus.
The budget includes measures to support individuals, via the raising of the National Insurance Contribution thresholds, freezing fuel and alcohol duties and the removal of VAT on women’s sanitary products once we have left the EU. Universal Credit claimants will be able to retain more of their benefit each month and parents of babies who spend extra time in neonatal care will benefit from a new pay and leave entitlement. £400m has been pledged to tackle rough sleeping and £12.2bn will be invested to build 200,000 new affordable homes.
Statutory Sick Pay will be available to eligible individuals with COVID-19 or those who are unable to work as they are self-isolating in line with Government advice, this will now be available from day 1 of sickness rather than day 4 for affected individuals. People who are self-isolating will be able to obtain an alternative for the fit note by contacting NHS 111 and those who are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay will be able to claim Universal Credit of Contributory Employment and Support Allowance more easily. Local Authorities will have access to a new £500m Hardship Fund to support economically vulnerable people and households.
The budget also makes provision for the Government to advance our green agenda and to protect our environment for future generations. There is an investment of £5.2bn to improve flood defences, £300m to improve air quality and £9.2m to introduce schemes to tackle fly-tipping. Later this month, my team and we will be partaking in our own Spring Clean with local students in a community litter pick at Gaynes Parkway.
Further information on the Budget and the measures proposed within it can be found at: