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‘Recognising and valuing the benefits of work is a fundamental Conservative value’

In his weekly Lynn News column, MP James Wild focuses on the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement...

While there’s a consensus across the political spectrum about the need to encourage more growth in the economy, approaches on how to achieve this differ. The one set out by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement was based on supply side tax cuts for workers and businesses while reducing borrowing . In contrast, Labour’s approach centres around borrowing an extra £28billion a year.

Next month 27 million working people will see their taxes cut when national insurance is reduced. That cut was at the heart of the plan set out and is a saving of around £450 for the average worker. Similar reductions will benefit self-employed people.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt delivering his autumn statement to MPs in the House of Commons
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt delivering his autumn statement to MPs in the House of Commons

There was also welcome additional support announced for people in North West Norfolk with increases to the national living wage, a rise in pensions by 8.5 per cent, uprating benefits in line with inflation, and increasing local housing allowance rates. This is all in addition to cost-of-living support payments going to the most vulnerable households, disabled people and pensioners. The measures in the Autumn Statement bring cost of living support put in place by the government to over £100billion.

Recognising and valuing the benefits of work is a fundamental Conservative value.That’s why there was such a focus on getting more people into work by reforming welfare including putting in place much more support to help disabled people and those with health conditions who want to and are able, to move into work - particularly now more roles can be done working from home.

Around one in five people on health-related benefits would like to work with the right support in place. Through the Chance to Work guarantee they will be able to do so without worrying - so if the job does not work out they can return to benefits without the prospect of having to be reassessed. Focusing on what people can do, not what they can’t is a fundamental part of our approach to welfare reform.

In total there were over 100 measures to support growth – most importantly including cutting business taxes to encourage investment by £11billion. The UK has the second highest level of foreign direct investment in the world, second only to the US, and this will make the UK more attractive for companies. Only this week Nissan announced a major investment as part of £30billion of support at the global investment summit.

I also welcome the extension of business rate relief for retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses which I lobbied for. For a typical pub it would mean around £11,800 off the final business rate bill. This support is worth almost £2.4billion to these vital sectors. Freezing alcohol duties will bring some Christmas cheer too.

After £350billion of unprecedented support provided during the pandemic and to help deal with the economic impacts of the war in Ukraine, there is the reality that borrowing needs to be paid back. The plans set out see borrowing and debt forecast to fall. When there was the opportunity, this Autumn Statement was a start in bringing taxes down so people can keep more of the money they earn.

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