As readers will have seen in the Leicester Mercury, the 2016 Budget had a number of measures including support for small businesses, the ‘sugar levy’ and some proposals concerning welfare reform.
It is fair to say these proposals attracted some controversy, on which many readers will have their own views. Though as the Chancellor of the Exchequer rightly said in his statement to the House earlier this week on Tuesday, it is important for the government to listen to the public and amend policies to better suit the needs of our country.
Firstly, we saw another very welcome increase in the personal allowance. This has risen from just under £6,500 in 2010 and will reach £11,500 in 2017. This represents a tax cut for 31 million hard working people and means an average basic rate tax payer will be saving over £1,000 from what they paid in 2010.
On top of this, the budget also froze fuel duty for the sixth year in a row and saw the introduction of a new ‘Lifetime ISA’ to help the next generation to save, which will see the Government provide Leicestershire savers £1 for every £4 saved.
There was also good news for small businesses across Leicestershire and our country, with a permanent doubling of small business rate relief meaning 600,000 small businesses will not pay business rates. Leicestershire is a fantastic place to do business and these measures will provide further support to the small businesses which are the backbone of our local economy.
And of course there was the very welcome news concerning the new Research and Development Enterprise Zone across Loughborough and Leicester, which will deliver 25,000 jobs and £180m over the next 25 years.
This is something I supported as MP for South Leicestershire and has been worked by a range of partners, including our local authorities and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, which I was delighted to see the Chancellor support.
And finally, measures to tackle growing obesity levels among children. The levy on sugar to encourage lower sugar levels in soft drinks is a very welcome measure. Money raised from this levy will be invested to support children in primary and secondary schools; helping those schools to provide a wide range of sporting activities for their pupils.
Overall, with the welcome amendment made this week, this budget will see good measures introduced for Leicestershire and for our country.