RESPONSE TO THE CHANCELLOR’S BUDGET STATEMENT

Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and The Border, has welcomed the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget Statement, which was delivered in the House of Commons recently. Containing pledges on broadband, schools, health and the High Street, this Budget is the expression of Mr Hammond’s ‘balanced approach’, which seeks to combine steady economic stewardship with disciplined investment. It is, Mr Stewart said, “a great Budget for Cumbria”.

Rory said: “This is a very welcome Budget which makes clear the good news for the nation’s economy: employment is at a record high, unemployment is at a record low, economic growth predictions have been upgraded, wages are growing at their fastest rate in a decade, income inequality is at a lower rate than at any time under the last Labour Government, the deficit is rapidly shrinking and the hard work of the British people is paying off".

“This Budget contains measures that will be welcomed across Cumbria and I would like to pay the Chancellor of the Exchequer a huge tribute for this. His announcement of a 33% cut in business rates for 90% of small businesses, alongside the establishment of a £675 million Future High Streets Fund, will have a significant effect in Cumbria - allowing investment in the regeneration of market towns such as Penrith, Wigton, Appleby, Kirkby Stephen, Longtown and Brampton. By contrast, the Labour Party wants to increase corporation tax by 25% for small businesses and 50% for large businesses, which would seriously damage our high streets and, ultimately, our communities".

“This Budget has provisions that will be welcome to all Cumbrians. Fuel duty has been frozen - for the ninth consecutive year - as has the duty on beer, cider and spirits. While the cost of driving is kept low, our roads will receive the biggest ever single cash investment with a 40% increase to Highways England’s Budget - making £420 million available to repair potholes, bridges and motorways. Broadband funding will also receive a real boost. The Chancellor has earmarked £200 million for the piloting of innovative approaches to the deployment of full fibre internet in rural locations, which includes the Borderlands. And I was delighted that he also confirmed the continuation of discussions on the Borderlands Growth Deal. In view of the disastrous floods that have struck Cumbria over the past few years, I was also very pleased to see that an additional £13 million will be invested in the flood warning system".

“In short - massive investment in our NHS, manifesto tax commitments delivered a year ahead of schedule, increased funding for social care, a historic pledge on mental health provision and £400m to schools as an ‘in-year bonus’ will all make a real difference to our towns and our communities. I have always fought hard for Penrith and The Border and I am delighted with this Budget, which I believe balances prudence with investment to deliver for Britain and for the communities and people of Cumbria.”