The budget started with good news. The UK's economy is growing faster than the USA, France and Japan, millions more people are in work and wages are rising. Against this positive backdrop, the Chancellor set out a budget that puts stability first, continuing to reduce the deficit and make sure the economy is fit to face the challenges that lie ahead as we leave the European Union.
I’m particularly pleased that Philip Hammond is putting more money into social care. We all know the system is struggling and this in turn affects the NHS. I’ve seen for myself how badly this funding is needed on rounds with a local care worker, visiting care homes and meeting staff and volunteers at Age UK, as well as at local hospitals. As well as an extra £2 billion over the next three years to ease the immediate crisis, the Government announced today that it is preparing a long-term plan for care in older age, and I look forward to working closely with Ministers on this.
A strong and resilient economy depends on businesses, so I welcome further reliefs on business rates announced in this budget. Overall businesses in Faversham and Mid Kent are seeing the rates they pay fall, but some, particularly pubs, told me they were set for steep increases. I met the Chancellor a few weeks ago and pressed him to help pubs out. I’m delighted that he’s listened to me, and others, and is giving 90% of all pubs a £1000 discount on business rate bills this year.
In the next few days I'll be going into the detail of what this budget means for us locally, and making sure it really does work for everyone in Kent.