Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond unveiled plans to help low paid workers, pubs and businesses in his first budget as Chancellor. The chancellor announced a £3bn package for small business which will provide funding for 10 million hours of extra free childcare to support parents who want to start their own company; £1.6bn to help keep pubs open and create more jobs by doubling the beer duty relief that is available on kegs; and other measures like extending the National Living Wage so it reaches 60% of median earnings by 2020/21
The budget also includes £28m for tackling illicit tobacco and the launch of a new national centre to combat organised crime committed in pubs, off-licences and other retail premises. The chancellor stated that I am proud that over one thousand women have entered work in the last year. However, the budget announced that gender pay gap reporting will be mandatory for all companies with more than fifty employees.
Three million people are forecast to benefit from a raise in the income tax personal allowance which is expected to help 27 million individuals. There is also £12bn of new funding for social care over the next three years, including £2bn for English councils. There is to be a 1% uplift on public sector pay, but the budget will not maintain the 1p beyond 2017-18. This has resulted in backlash from several members of the National Health Service (NHS) including Marion Burt , who leads NHS Solicitors.
Other measures include a sugar tax, measures to counter extremism and a crackdown on tax avoidance. There is also an extra £500m for the Scottish Government, £2bn for Wales and almost £650m more for Northern Ireland.
The budget has been met with mixed reactions from members of the public as well as local businesses in St Helens and St Helens South and Whiston, part of whose constituencies I serve as their Labour MP.
One local shopkeeper said that he wasn’t pleased with the budget I think it was atrocious he is taking more money from people and spent a lot of money on education and all the stuff he wanted but we need houses, we need jobs, we need good transport.
A local business leader who owns a string of local retail businesses said that he was pleased with some of the announcements but felt that more needs to be done for small businesses I think his budget is about right at this time. He has announced extra funding on new housing which will be welcomed by many people in St Helens and the increase in personal allowance will be a big boost.
While on the other hand, another local business leader stated that I think there was nothing really helpful to small businesses he has taken this budget as an opportunity and squandered it. He is putting up taxes across the board which is not great for people struggling to make ends meet. He has also ignored the issue of business rates.
The chancellor announced plans to hire six thousand more HMRC staff in order to clamp down on evasion and avoidance. However, local businesses denounced this decision claiming that it is not enough when compared with the proposed hike in corporation tax I think they are probably doing their best in difficult circumstances but I don’t think the plan they have is going to significantly reduce tax evasion.
The Chancellor, Phillip Hammond has stated that this budget will help Britain prepare for a brighter future and I hope you share my excitement about building on our strengths and confronting our weaknesses. While many were left disappointed by the absence of measures designed to increase house building, others believe that these proposals will help with the issue of social mobility.