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MP discusses taxes, broadband and King’s Lynn’s Grand East Anglian Run

In his weekly column, MP James Wild talks about tax cuts, broadband and a popular road race…

This week millions of people will have seen extra cash in their pay packets as taxes were cut again. As the economy continues to turn a corner, these national insurance reductions are worth around £900 a year on average – a typical full-time nurse will save £1,053 and an average teacher £1,270.

These tax cuts to reward work are worth over £20billion a year. That is a significant reduction which has been possible while protecting spending including keeping the Triple Lock and increasing state pensions by £900 and investing in the NHS and defence. They come as inflation has fallen 11.1% to 3.2% helping ease cost pressures for families and businesses combined with increases in wages and energy prices falling.

Runners turned out in force for the 2023 GEAR
Runners turned out in force for the 2023 GEAR

As a result of the cuts of NI by a third, more people are also expected to move into work – benefitting them and helping grow the economy. In other welcome economic news, more companies are also being created with nearly 250,000 new businesses set up in the first three months of the year. That is a positive sign of economic activity increasing.

For most businesses and individuals, a fast and reliable broadband connection is essential. That’s why one of my priorities is to ensure North West Norfolk benefits from government ambitions to provide more access to faster gigabit broadband speeds. According to Ofcom data, North West Norfolk has 64.2% gigabit availability, compared to 78.5% for the UK as a whole. That commercial rollout has accelerated in recent years, however, coverage is much lower in rural areas.

Through the initial Project Gigabit contract for Norfolk awarded by the government to CityFibre last year, premises in Castle Acre, Little and Great Massingham, and Harpley will be covered. Since then, I have been pressing CityFibre, Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), and ministers on the importance of adding thousands more premises locally to the contract. Much of this work happens in the background with regular virtual and face-to-face meetings.

After considerable survey work, CityFibre has just briefed me on their plans including for additional exchanges which would mean much greater coverage. These plans will be submitted to BDUK. Last week I met the Digital Minister to push for them to be approved and contracts amended. Again, that was away from the public eye – in fact, I met her at one of the regular surgeries that ministers host for MPs in the Members’ Tearoom. I’ll keep making the case and hopefully, there will be positive news shortly.

Finally, this weekend the GEAR 10km takes place in Lynn. This is an incredibly popular event and I’m looking forward to joining thousands of other runners on the start line and enjoying the route around town. It comes a couple of weeks after I finished the London Marathon. I’d like to thank everyone who kindly sponsored me to help raise over £3,700 for West Norfolk Autism Group who are very grateful for everyone’s generosity as this will pay for so many much-needed activities.

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