The Autumn Statement showed how this Conservative Government lead by our new Prime Minister Theresa May will build a country that works for everyone and was the new Government’s first big opportunity to show how it is building on previous work.
We heard encouraging news about our economy with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures projecting the UK economy growing by 2.1% in 2016 and 1.4% in 2017. Record employment in every region of the UK with 2.7 million jobs created since 2010 shows the Government’s plans are working to make sure all who want a job can get one.
Savers across South Derbyshire will be pleased by the announcement of a new market-savings bond allowing up to £3,000 to be deposited, which will benefit around 2 million young and elderly people across the country. This will make a real difference as since Labour’s great recession our interest rates have been set very low by the Bank of England. Whilst this has stimulated investment and grown the economy, it has meant those saving having a smaller return.
The great news that fuel duty will not rise as planned but continue to be frozen past April 2017 was well received. This means the average driver has had a saving of £130 every year since 2010. Together with the continued commitment to cut corporation tax to 17% and increasing the personal tax allowance to £12,500 by the end of the Parliament shows this Government is determined to ensure fairness by freeing up money for companies to reinvest and grow their businesses and cutting taxes for hard working people. The increase in the personal allowance will mean 28 million people have received a tax cut since we formed the Government in 2010.
There was great news in the form of increased spending for projects which will increase productivity. £23 billion invested through a new ‘National Productivity Investment Fund’, with the money going to high-value generating infrastructure and research projects, as well as £2 billion more for research and development by 2020-21. There is excellent news for the Midlands with the provision of funding for the ‘Midlands Hub’ study and a new pot of £1.8 billion for the England Local Growth Fund which our Derbyshire firms can apply for. This will help South Derbyshire and improve connectivity for local businesses and residents.
Part of my job as a Government Whip is to look after the new Department for International Trade (DIT) lead by the Secretary of State Dr Liam Fox MP. This new Department has really hit the ground running and is being whole heartedly supported by the Government as we are committed to increasing our trade with the world and to making a success of Brexit. To that end the Chancellor announced £26 million a year more for DIT and the Foreign Office to strengthen trade policy capability. Furthermore he supported UK businesses by increasing the amount of pre-approved local currencies foreign companies can pay in from 10 to 40 and a doubling of the UK Export Finance budget to £5 billion which basically makes trade from other countries much more appealing. This will no doubt help the excellent companies of South Derbyshire and go towards encouraging those who are not yet exporting to start doing so.
I commend the Chancellor and his Ministerial team together with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet for this excellent Autumn Statement which looks towards the future positively and projects an outward looking modern economy to the rest of the world.
It says the UK is open for business and supports all who want to get on in life.
(This article was originally written for the Derby Telegraph).