Today was #Budget2018 - there were lots of announcements throughout the Chancellor's speech and the headlines are that the UK economy continues to be in a strong position with record employment and the lowest unemployment on record, whilst real term wage increases are at the highest in years. Indeed, the OBR has upgraded our growth forecasts. It is important that this growth is felt by people throughout our country.
This positive economy performance has enabled the government to bring forward its planned increase in the personal allowance, i.e. the amount you can earn before paying income tax, to £12,500 for the basic rate of 20% and £50,000 for the higher rate of 40%. This is great news and sticks to the immortal maxim that people know how to spend their own money better than the government does. The National Living Wage will be rising by 5% to £8.21 whilst Universal Credit will receive an additional £1.7bn. This is a big support package for people who are working to make ends meet and I am pleased the Government has listened to lots of people's concerns about Universal Credit.
There were big investments into our public services, particularly our NHS which will receive £20.5bn, as announced by the Prime Minister earlier this year, including £2bn for mental health. There is an additional £650m for local councils to fund adult social care, which is a good start however the Government needs to come up with a long-term plan for this area and ensure it is properly funded. There was also £400m for schools, again a good investment but much more is needed in this area, as I have set out. There is also an additional £1bn going to support our armed forces, particularly delivering new destroyers.
There was also a lot in the Budget for business. Business rates for smaller companies will be cut by 1/3 for 2 years meaning 90% of shops will save up to £8,000. Fuel Duty will be frozen for the 9th year running, saving drivers a cumulative total of £1,000 on average since 2010. Beer, cider and spirit duty will be frozen again saving money on your pint - hurrah! There will be £28.8bn invested into our roads and I will be making it quite clear to the Chancellor that a decent portion of this should be spent on upgrading the A27. Meanwhile the Government will introduce a Digital Service Tax to tackle the shameless tax avoidance by some large online service companies, who simply do not pay their fair share in the UK.
A lot going on and these are just the main headline issues! There is more detail here: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/budget-2018 - if you have any questions or comments please do leave a comment below.