Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak holds up the red box outside Number 11 on his first Budget. Picture by Harriet Pavey/ No 10 Downing Street
EAST Hampshire MP Damian Hinds has welcomed key announcements in this week’s Autumn Budget and Spending Review he says are "especially significant for East Hampshire".
Mr Hinds says the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are particular winners – with many local businesses to benefit from the freezing of rates and cancellation of next year’s planned increase in the business rate multiplier.
“This will be welcome news for the many local pubs, restaurants and cafes that are working hard to recover from the impact of pandemic,” said Mr Hinds.
Reforms to alcohol duties will also boost local pubs, with the emphasis on draught beer. But just as hey, added Mr Hinds, is the change to wine duty, "because so much of our locally produced wine is sparkling".
Mr Hinds continued: “While the headlines may be about Prosecco, local English wine producers will welcome the end of the duty premium for sparkling wines, supporting a key growth sector across Hampshire, Sussex and Kent – a case I put to the Exchequer Secretary recently.”
The MP also believes the freeze in fuel duty, for the 12th year in a row, is particularly important for rural areas like East Hampshire, and will help local drivers and businesses with their transport costs – saving the average driver £1,900 since 2010.
Over time, the revenue from fuel duty will fall, as more people switch to electric vehicles. And Mr Hinds says the Spending Review reaffirms the drive to Net Zero, funding the path to a greener economy through innovation that will cut carbon and create jobs.
Help for low-income families with the cost of living will come through the reduction in the Universal Credit taper rate from 63 per cent to 55 per cent – giving a £1,000 pay rise to two million of the lowest paid across the country.
Many will also gain from the increase in the National Living Wage to £9.50 an hour, with a boost also coming from the lifting of pay constraints for public sector workers.
Mr Hinds said: "I was personally especially pleased with the cut in the taper rate. It was something we worked on while I was at DWP as employment minister, but this is a really big step, bringing Universal Credit in line with the original design anticipated before the fiscal tightening needed in the 2010 after the crash of 2008.”
Other significant policy announcements in the statement included the on-going commitment to R&D spending and investment, the multi-year funding settlement for new housing, police recruitment as well as support for education, for both SEND places and early years provision in particular.
Damian added: “Supporting parents and young families during the earliest days can have a big impact on development. The new Start for Life programme will make a difference for many families.
“Continuing the support for the school holiday and activity programme is another important commitment and one that I know already helps families across East Hampshire and one that I was pleased to oversee the development of during my time as Education Secretary.”
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