This is a Budget that looks to the future, and resets the dial on Government’s approach to spending. It’s not been an easy seven years managing the UK economy and there is no silver bullet for ‘fixing’ everything, it’s been a time of difficult decisions, and also some great successes. We have record levels of employment and have created 1,000 jobs every single day since 2010.
We’ve got the deficit down from 10% of our GDP to just 2%, means next year our debt will start to fall. At the same time we have more Good and Outstanding schools educating our children, we have invested more money in our NHS, in transport infrastructure, and supported working people by reducing income tax across the board, and taking millions out of tax altogether.
Despite the global economic issues the Government has a positive story to tell, and has been prudent in its decision making. We need to be prepared for uncertainty and future challenges, so let’s be clear this is not a recipe to rip up the rule book and splurge money in the style of John McDonnell. The dangers posed by Labour’s proposals to both borrow and raise taxes should be concerning to every family and working person who would end up footing that bill through higher prices in the shops and increased taxes across the board.
The dangers of the assault Labour would make on business should concern every person who values their job and their livelihood, as increased running costs particularly for smaller businesses would mean less employment out there for people who just want to work hard and look after their families. That’s not a sensible plan for the future and the Chancellor is clear that we have to continue to make sensible decisions with the country’s finances. Labour’s £58billion black hole in their spending plans would wreck everything we’ve built over the last seven years.
Despite the global economic issues the Government has a positive story to tell
However, what this Budget does show is that Government are ready to make the right investments. It focuses on housing, it focuses on health, and on key issues that really matter to people. There’s a lot for younger people to be pleased about too. First-time buyers will save thousands in up-front costs through the scrapping of Stamp Duty, meaning less to save in advance.
The living wage rise and income tax reduction means more money in the pockets of working people, especially those on the lowest pay. Support to roll out new technical and vocational qualifications will help thousands of people, particularly in constituencies like mine where only a minority go to university, to get better skills and find more rewarding work. It’s a budget for the future, in which we’ve clearly set out that we’re going to support working people, working families, and help them to get on and do well.
I’m not one to just churn out the party catchphrases, let’s be clear. (I haven’t said “fit for the future’’ even once, have you noticed? Never did “strong and stable’’ either, which I feel is to my credit!) I’ve spent the last few months since my election saying we need to change the way we operate, to make fundamental changes to support younger generations and to improve our ‘offer’ as a party and a Government. Last week I called for an end to ‘austerity’ and for more investment in our economy. I wasn’t expecting to be in a good mood writing about this Budget, if I’m being totally honest, but I genuinely am pleased with the Chancellor’s offer (and his jokes, who knew!?).
For the first time since I came to Parliament I can see a vision and a clear direction for Government, and a Budget that goes some way to readdress the balance and deal with those issues I’ve been raising. It focuses on young people, on the future, and if you accept the financial situation we’re in and that we can’t afford to borrow in to the hundreds of billions like Labour would, this Budget is a big step in the right direction.
Ben Bradley is the Conservative MP for Mansfield