I welcomed the Government’s Autumn Budget and Spending Review, saying it will help working families meet the cost of living, support businesses’ recovery, deliver world-class public services, and drive economic growth across the country. Key announcements to help with the cost of living include a significant tax cut for low-income families by reducing the Universal Credit taper rate from 63 per cent to 55 per cent, raising the National Living Wage to £9.50 an hour, increasing pay for public sector workers, and freezing fuel and alcohol duty. Measures to help drive economic growth and support businesses include cuts to business rates, new tax reliefs, and record spending on infrastructure and R&D – laying the foundations to recover from the pandemic.
The Budget outlines how the Government will support working families and vulnerable households with the cost of living, including through a significant tax cut for low-income families by reducing the Universal Credit taper rate from 63 per cent to 55 per cent, a 6.6 per cent increase in the National Living Wage to £9.50 an hour – giving a £1,000 pay rise to 2 million of the lowest paid – lifting pay restraints for public sector workers, a freeze in fuel duty for the twelfth consecutive year, and a freeze in alcohol duty – alongside radical reform to make the system simpler, fairer and healthier.
Businesses will also benefit from new measures, including a 50 per cent cut in business rates next year for 90 per cent of retail, hospitality and leisure – alongside a freeze of all rates – the creation of new business rates relief to encourage green technologies and improvements to properties, and a doubling of creative industries tax reliefs for the UK’s world-leading theatres, orchestras, museums and galleries. Other measures to drive economic growth include record investment in roads, railways, broadband and a huge uplift in skills training through T-levels, Institutes of Technology, and apprenticeships.
As part of the three year Spending Review delivered alongside the Budget, total government departmental spending will increase by £150 billion by 2024 – a 3.8 per cent annual real terms increase – the largest real terms increase this century, and record levels of capital investment not seen in 50 years. This funding increase will help to deliver on promises made by the Government, including building 40 new hospitals, recruiting 20,000 police officers, and the biggest schools funding boost in a decade.
Underpinning these measures, the Budget aims to get debt falling again, following the £400 billion package of support put in place during the pandemic. The new fiscal rules set out today by the Chancellor will require the government to only borrow to invest and get debt falling by 2024, in line with the Conservative Government’s 2019 manifesto commitment.
I welcome the measures set out in this spending review, which aims to give relief to low-income families, help with the cost of living, continue to help the industries that were impacted the most by the pandemic, and give support to our health service to get through the backlog. We need to spend responsibly, but also recognise the difficulties we are still facing in the aftermath of the pandemic.
In my capacity as Sports and Tourism Minister, I was particularly pleased with the announcement of £200 million to build and transport over 8,000 community football pitches, as well as support for a bid for the 2030 men’s Football World Cup, Tour de France and Women’s Rugby World Cup and delivering the UEFA Women’s European Championships. The one year 50 per cent business rates discount for retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors will be hugely welcome for the tourism industry, and I welcome the £850m to protect museums, galleries, libraries, and local culture, in addition to extended tax relief. In my new role as Minister for Civil Society and Youth I also welcome the £560million investment in youth including a promise for many new and refurbished Youth Centres across the country. Our economy is heading in the right direction, and I’m glad this Budget focused on recovery and support to get us through the winter.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak commented: “One year ago, this country was in the grip of the biggest recession in 300 years. Thanks to our Plan For Jobs, we are today recovering faster than our major competitors, more people are in work, and growth is up. But uncertainty in the global economy means that recovery is now under threat. That is why this Budget and Spending Review delivers a stronger economy for the British people – strengthening our public finances, helping working families meet the cost of living, supporting businesses, delivering stronger public services, and driving economic growth. This is a Budget which will level up every part of the United Kingdom. It is a Budget which provides the foundations for a stronger economy.”