Delivering a Budget is one of the hardest jobs in frontline politics. The Chancellor has to plan and bring in measures that will help as many people as possible, all the while balancing this against tax revenue and existing spending commitments – no easy task.
Despite this challenge, the Chancellor presented some key announcements that will make a real difference to people living in my Finchley and Golders Green constituency. Here are some of the highlights from the Autumn Budget which I think will be very good news for our area.
Stamp Duty for first-time buyers
I receive regular emails from younger people who aspire to get on the housing ladder. This has become a particular challenge in recent years with strong house price increases, particularly here in London. In previous years, the Government has introduced schemes like Equity Loans and Help to Buy ISAs. This has helped many but more needs to be done. The Chancellor saved the biggest Budget surprise for last – the outright abolition of Stamp Duty Land Tax for first-time buyers on properties up to £300,000 with immediate effect - a saving of up to £5,000. For higher-priced areas like ours, first-time buyers will pay no Stamp Duty on the first £300,000 for properties valued up to £500,000.
Building more homes
Although 1,000,000 homes have been built since 2010, more are needed. In response, the Chancellor committed £15 billion for housebuilding to deliver 300,000 a year by the middle of the next decade – the biggest boost to the housing supply since the 1970s. This also includes investment in construction skills and planning reform. The Chancellor also announced that he would seek to protect the green belt, make better use of urban land - particularly around transport hubs - and look at measures to tackle the practice of big developers ‘land banking’, which strangles supply.
Investing in the NHS
More people than ever are using our NHS, including our excellent Finchley Memorial Hospital. To reflect this and support the hard work of NHS staff, the Government has been investing record amounts, including fully funding the NHS’s own £8 billion plan, the ‘Five Year Forward View’. To go even further, the Chancellor has announced an additional £2.8 billion of funding for 2019-20, including £350 million for this winter and another £10 billion to upgrade buildings and facilities. There will also be additional funding agreed to allow for pay rises for nurses.
Support for local businesses
Small businesses are at the heart of our communities and are the engine of the economy. Business Rates are often raised as one of the key pressures on local businesses. The Chancellor announced that he would bring forward by two years a planned change to the way Business Rates are calculated - a move worth £2.3 billion to businesses over the next five years. He also again cancelled the proposed fuel duty rise for both petrol and diesel that was scheduled for April.
Taking home more in your pay packet
I want to see people take home more of what they earn. From April next year, the personal allowance will rise again to £11,850 meaning that the typical basic rate tax payer will be £1,075 a year better off compared to 2010. The higher rate will also be increased to £46,350. Before the Conservatives came in to office in 2010, the personal allowance was at just £6,475.
Despite a challenging global economic and political climate, I think the Chancellor has delivered a really positive and forward-thinking Budget that lays the foundations for a Britain fit for the future – investing for the long-term while supporting families, businesses and our public services now.