On October 27th, the Chancellor announced the Government’s Autumn Budget and Spending Review. This was an ambitious and comprehensive budget that will support people and businesses, drive economic growth, deliver world-class public services, and facilitate our transition to net zero.
I was pleased that the budget addressed many of the issues my constituents care about. For example, it will significantly help working people with the cost of living, by reducing the Universal Credit taper rate, increasing the National Living Wage to £9.50, and lifting the pay freeze for public sector workers.
Several constituents also wrote to me expressing their concern over business rates and alcohol duty. I welcomed the Chancellor’s decision to freeze all alcohol duties and to cut duty for draught beer and cider. This will provide much-needed support for our local pubs. There will also be a 50% discount on business rates next year for retail, hospitality and leisure, and a new business rates relief for green technologies.
Other measures to drive economic growth include record investment in our roads, railways and broadband; a huge uplift in skills training through T-levels, Institutes of Technology, and apprenticeships; and supporting innovation through record spending on R&D.
Innovation is a huge driver of productivity and progress, and unleashing innovation is a fundamental duty for my Department and for me as Secretary of State. The Budget increases R&D investment to £22 billion, which will confirm the UK as a science and technology superpower. We must also make sure our small businesses, which are the heart of the British economy, have the support they need. For this reason, the Chancellor strengthened the British Business Bank, increasing its regional financing programmes to £1.6 billion and expanding its coverage. The Budget also confirms the eligibility criteria for our new scale-up visa, which all businesses I speak to, and small businesses in particular, say they need help in pursuing.
The Government can deliver such a revolutionary budget because our recovery as a country from the pandemic will be quicker than expected. Under this Government, the proportion of people in low-paid work has fallen to its lowest level in 30 years. The economy is growing, and debt is falling.
In conclusion, the Budget is a blueprint for a stronger Britain: a country where those with innovative ideas will get the support they need to turn them from dream to reality; a country where those whose talent is nurtured and whose skills are honed will get support, ongoing interest and strong engagement from the Government; a country where those who do an honest day’s work will receive a decent wage. I am proud to be part of a Government that has provided a robust budget for Spelthorne and the whole of the United Kingdom, and I am both optimistic and excited about the future of our country.