Nick Herbert: Budget and economy deliver good news

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert

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The backdrop to this week’s Budget was more good economic news. Growth, employment and wages are up. Britain has the fastest growth of any major industralised economy.

Employment is at a record high. In my Arundel and South Downs constituency, the claimant count is down to fewer than 400.

The Chancellor did not come to the Commons with gimmicks or give-aways, but with a clear determination to stick to a long term economic plan which is delivering.

With responsible economic management and improved borrowing figures, he was able to do some of the things which we wanted to see.

I wrote last week about the case for cutting alcohol duties. So I was particularly pleased to see that the Budget cut beer duty for the third consecutive year, along with cuts to cider and spirits duties and a freeze in wine duty.

Other announcements will be particularly welcome in our rural area. The Chancellor cancelled the rise in fuel duty planned for September.

He pledged to bring ultra-fast broadband to nearly every home in the country, with other measures to get broadband to the hardest-to-reach areas, including subsidising superfast satellite services.

I recently spoke in the Commons about need to close the digital divide and ensure that rural areas have access to fast broadband, so I am very pleased to see the Government extend its ambition in this area.

I also spoke about the plight of local dairy farmers who are facing unsustainably low prices. So the Chancellor’s decision to allow farmers to average their incomes over five years for tax purposes is welcome.

I was also pleased to see new measures to encourage savings and to reduce the tax burden on families by raising the personal allowance again.

The typical working taxpayer will be over £900 a year better off, while 3.7 million of the lowest paid will be taken out of tax altogether.

All of this has been possible because the Government has taken the tough decisions over the last five years to get our economy back on track. The deficit has halved, yet spending on the NHS and schools has been protected.

We need to stay on a course that is delivering for Britain.

We must not put all of these achievements at risk by returning to the bad old days of overspending, excessive borrowing, and the higher taxes and unemployment that inevitably follow.

If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or email me at nick@nickherbert.com.