I'm delighted that last week’s budget will support North Cornwall's residents and our economy. From top to bottom, this was a budget for everyone. One of the main reasons Doctors give me for leaving the NHS is how much tax they're paying on their pensions and savings. Scrapping the Lifetime Tax Allowance will encourage people to stay working for longer within our local health care system. I have long been an advocate for more recruitment of staff in North Cornwall, but at the same time, I have called for more to be done to retain the staff we already have. At first glance, the reform of doctor’s pensions by the Chancellor may not appear to have a direct impact on the patient, but I feel that this measure will have a profoundly positive impact on the NHS over the medium to long term. It will give our doctors the financial stability they call for to continue their careers in the health system. Perhaps most importantly, the retention of senior and late-career doctors in the NHS will ensure that some of the most proficient practitioners who have decades of experience will no longer be lost. Continuity of care is important to people in North Cornwall; these measures will ensure that more GP appointments are available, and patients will be under the care of the same GP for longer.
I recently met directly with the Chancellor to put forward spending commitments that I wanted in his statement, so I was very pleased that a generous allocation of £63 million was set aside to ensure our leisure centres and swimming pools can remain open. We have several eligible centres in North Cornwall, and I am aware from discussions with our local leisure centres that energy bills are a major concern for them, as the cost of heating and running the centres is a huge overhead that they must cover. I will continue to fully support North Cornwall’s leisure centres and help to deliver what they need from the government.
We brew the UK’s number one cask ale in North Cornwall, which is sold in many pubs across the country. It is important to me that pubs and restaurants are treated fairly, and we are embracing our Brexit freedoms to start that process to freeze duty on beer sold in pubs - meaning you’ll pay less tax on a pint in the pub than in a supermarket. Pubs are the heart of so many communities and this move will be a boost to our vital hospitality sector. The final element of the budget which I want to highlight is the allocation of over £5 million to repair potholes. This is a very welcome measure in the budget which I also called for. The cost to the local economy from damage to vehicles is very high, and funding repairs to the roads constitute a very cost-effective investment.