Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, has praised Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s Autumn Budget, which was unveiled on Wednesday after Prime Ministers Questions.
Housing featured heavily in the budget, the flagship policy being the commitment to abolish stamp duty for 80% of first time buyers, effective immediately on homes worth less than £300,000. Additionally, the budget set a target of delivering 300,000 new homes per year, and a promise to reform planning regulations to prevent planning applications lying dormant.
Speaking from outside the Chamber Mr Evans said:
“I’ve certainly heard worse budgets in my 25 years as an MP. I think the Chancellor has done well to address some key issues, such as the attempt to tackle the broken housing market. The removal of stamp duty on homes under £300,000 for first time buyers is excellent, the average stamp duty bill for first-time buyers is about £2,700 – this can now be spent on things such as furniture or other necessities.”
“The average house price here in the Ribble Valley is £207,190, which is well above the North West regional figure of £153,297, it is therefore essential that first time buyers have some assistance which will incentivise our youngsters to stay and contribute to life in the valley and surrounding areas.”
Another area of contention addressed in the Chancellor’s budget was the recognition of errors in the current Universal Credit system, as a result, the government have removed the 7 day waiting period before claimants can apply for UC and significantly improved the advance payments system.
On this point, Mr Evans acknowledged the difficulties the current system has caused:
“I have been in contact with many constituents who have suffered tremendous complications with the Universal Credit system. I think the chancellor has made steps in the right direction, there may still be worries and we need to listen more acutely. The reality is that none of us in that chamber has ever had to live off universal credit. We don’t know what it’s like all of a sudden to be thrown into that position where you have no money for a period of time.”
“Additionally, much was done to support families in their everyday lives; increasing the National Living Wage above inflation, raising the personal allowance, freezing fuel duty for the 8th year and investing to support our NHS. All of these help to build a stable platform for Britain to thrive.”
In the North West, the Chancellor set out his Budget against a backdrop of strong economic growth across the region. Since 2010, there are more than 85,000 businesses and 257,000 more people in work in the North West. The region’s employment rate has grown faster than any other over the past year.
The Budget includes a boost for skills to give people living across the North West the training they need to succeed and get the highly-paid jobs of the future.
On small business, Phillip Hammond announced the end of the staircase tax which will throw a lifeline to thousands of small firms that had no time to prepare for the levy. He has also committed to reinstating and backdating original business rates bills.
In regards to this matter, Mr Evans quoted:
“Small, unique businesses are at the very heart of the Ribble Valley, it is refreshing to see that those owning such businesses will see some relief from this budget to allow them to flourish. I have always, and will always champion Ribble Valley businesses.”
There were triumphant cheers in the chamber when it was announced that beer duty would be frozen, Nigel had written an open letter to the Chancellor in the run-up to the budget, requesting that beer duty was cut, this was signed by 50 conservative MP’s.
Nigel said: “Whilst we were hoping for a cut in beer duty, we are thrilled to see a freeze. Pubs are part of the social fabric of my constituency, there are a staggering 112 pubs employing over 1,000 people, 440 of whom are under 25. Backing our great British pubs. The Chancellor’s guarantee to extend the £1,000 discount for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 to March 2019 will also provide assurances for smaller pubs.”
Finally, Nigel Evans expressed jubilation at the investment of a further £3 billion allocated to Brexit preparations.
“I’m an arch-Brexiteer and have been saying for ages: for goodness sake, Philip, you have to say something about the preparations for two years time. Up until now he’d been reluctant to commit more than a small amount of money. Now he’s announced £3bn and I think that’s brilliant. The Ribble Valley voted 56.4% to leave the EU, and it’s vitally important to ensure our transition is as smooth as possible and ensure we are prosperous when leaving – that is exactly what this money will do.”