I always find the Budget Day the hardest of all the big events of Parliament. It is such a difficult day in terms of trying to balance the books on a macroeconomic level but also introduce measures to help individuals on the ground. I am not an economist and I am also not prone to copying and pasting centrally produced literature so here are a few of my thoughts from the Chancellor's speech, reflected in no particular order.
- I was delighted to the Chancellor announce he is relieving the VAT on fuel for our air ambulances. This may not sound like the most important thing in the world but it is massively important for Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance who lobbied me for this cut which will in turn mean that money donated to this amazing charity will go further. I spoke about this in the chamber back in 2011 and the contribution can be read at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm120711/debtext/120711-0003.htm#12071139005309
- Having spoken also on the issue of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals and the devastating impact they have had on some gamblers since the liberalisation of gambling under the last Government, I welcome the Chancellor's announcement to increase the B2 machine games duty.
- Local pubs should be cheering the cut in beer duty which will help keep the punters inside their establishments rather than purchasing cheap booze from our supermarkets. Kent has 25 breweries, 1500 pubs, employs 14000 people and generates £533 million for our local economy. A 1p cut in beer duty might not sound a lot but it will certainly continue to help support an industry that has a long history in the county.
- The Chancellor also announced measures to help individuals workers and savers. From next year the personal allowance will be raised to £10,500 which will take nearly 400 people across Chatham & Aylesford out of tax altogether but will also mean a tax cut for over 41K of those in my constituency. The average tax cut will be around £805 but obviously this will vary depending on the amount of money earned. In addition measures were announced to help savers. Many people have written to me about this feeling that they have been punished most because of low interest rates. The Chancellor has reformed ISAs, cut savings income tax and changed the rules on annuities, helping many savers and pensioners as a result.
So those are a few initial thoughts on the Budget. I don't think anyone is ready to say the road to recovery is complete but we are certainly a bit further down it today.