The Budget is always an exciting part of the political calendar, and it was great to be in the House of Commons while the Chancellor delivered a Budget and Spending Review which had several important announcements for Cornwall. In 2019 we pledged to ensure that all EU administered funding to Cornwall was replaced on a like for like basis. I’m very pleased that this promise has been kept and the Chancellor made a very clear commitment to the people of Cornwall that this will be the case.
The Budget prioritises helping working families and vulnerable households in North Cornwall with the cost of living, including through a significant tax cut for low-income families by reducing the Universal Credit taper rate from 63 per cent to 55 per cent, a 6.6 per cent increase in the National Living Wage to £9.50 an hour – giving a £1,000 pay rise to 2 million of the lowest paid – lifting pay restraints for public sector workers, a freeze in fuel duty for the twelfth consecutive year, and a freeze in alcohol duty – alongside radical reform to make the system simpler, fairer and healthier.
Businesses in North Cornwall will also benefit from new measures, including a 50 per cent cut in business rates next year for 90 per cent of retail, hospitality and leisure – alongside a freeze of all rates – the creation of new business rates relief to encourage green technologies and improvements to properties, and a doubling of creative industries tax reliefs for the UK’s world-leading theatres, orchestras, museums and galleries. Other measures to drive economic growth include record investment in our roads, railways and broadband; supporting innovation through a record £20 billion spending on R&D; and a huge uplift in skills training through T-levels, Institutes of Technology, and apprenticeships.
As part of the three year Spending Review delivered alongside the Budget, total government departmental spending will increase by £150 billion by 2024 – a 3.8 per cent annual real terms increase – the largest real terms increase this century, and record levels of capital investment not seen in 50 years. This funding increase will help to deliver on the Government’s key manifesto promises, on the NHS, police officers, and raising per-pupil spending in schools to record levels.
Underpinning these measures, the Budget strengthens the country’s public finances and will get debt falling again, following the £400 billion package of support put in place during the pandemic. The new fiscal rules set out today by the Chancellor will require the government to only borrow to invest and get debt falling by 2024, in line with the Conservative Government’s 2019 manifesto commitment. It has been a particularly challenging couple of years, but North Cornwall has proved just how resilient our community is. I know that the support for businesses and individuals in this Budget will help us go from strength to strength.