Worcester MP, Robin Walker has welcomed measures announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak in today’s budget; including doubling the amount it invests in flood defences, response to the coronavirus, and a range of measures seeking to help people with the cost of living and levelling up across the United Kingdom.

Since 2010, the Government has restored the public finances to health. With the public finances now in a more secure position, the Government is able to increase borrowing for investment without compromising fiscal sustainability.

The Government is currently investing £2.6 billion in flood defences, and Robin was pleased to see the Chancellor announce that the Government will double the amount it invests in the flood and coastal defence programme in England to £5.2 billion over six years, which is undoubtedly justified by the record levels and lengths of flooding. The government is also making available £120 million to the Environment Agency to repair the assets damaged by the storms this winter.

Robin has been campaigning over many years for additional flood defences in Worcester and is hopeful that this funding announcement can be rapidly translated into action on the ground. Robin has, and continues to, work to support our councils and emergency services with the extra workload they have had to take on to deal with the floods and is working to ensure that the support from Government comes through quickly and efficiently.

This budget was delivered against the difficulties presented by the recent outbreak of coronavirus, and thus Robin greeted the Chancellor’s announcement of a £12 billion plan which seeks to provide support for public services, individuals, and businesses whose finances have been affected by the coronavirus; including an emergency response fund, initially set at £5 billion, aiming to support the NHS in their tackling of the virus, and a new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme that will see banks offer loans of up to £1.2m to support SMEs.

Robin was particularly pleased to see that the Business Rates retail discount will be temporarily increased to 100% for the period 2020-21, and further extended to the leisure and hospitality sectors. Taken together with existing Small Business Rates Relief, around 900,000 properties will receive 100% business rates relief in the coming year.

Robin supports the increase in the National Insurance threshold from £8,632 to £9,500 this April, benefiting 31 million people, resulting in over £200 tax cut for the typical family. He also supports the 6.2% increase in National Living Wage to £8.72 from April, and commits to a new ambitious target for the National Living Wage, which is projected to be over £10.50 an hour by 2024, giving an estimated 4 million low paid workers a pay rise.

Robin is a longstanding supporter of the National Living Wage and endorsed its introduction. Cutting taxes for working families by raising the income tax threshold has always been important to Robin and as a back-bencher Robin spoke often of raising the threshold up to the level of someone working full-time on the minimum wage.

Speaking after the Budget announcement, Robin said:

“I am delighted that we have set out measures to support families and help them with the cost of living, while continuing to invest in Britain’s future responsibly – laying the foundations for a decade of growth and prosperity. This is the first Budget delivered outside of the EU for more than five decades. It sets out a clear, one nation, path for the Government to get things done.”

“The budget today has a number of vital jobs to do – supporting business, helping people with the cost of living through tax changes and movements in the national living wage, stimulating investment in infrastructure, supporting research and innovation and levelling up across the United Kingdom.”

“It comes however in the shadow of understandable public concern about the Coronavirus and the chilling effect that this has already had on the global economy. Whatever challenges lie ahead with the Coronavirus, I think it is vital that the Government response is evidence based and designed to keep the maximum number of people well and safe. I have been attending regular meetings on this and I am confident that the right steps are being taken at the right time. We can all play our part by washing hands regularly, calling 111 with any concerns, and seeking to ensure we support those most at risk by protecting them from exposure.”

“Locally I am well aware that there has also been a massive impact from the floods, and I am determined to make sure businesses and the economy get the support they need.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

For more information on the 2020 Budget, please see:

https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/budget-2020

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/budget-2020-documents

To read the Chancellor’s Budget speech in full, please see:

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/budget-speech-2020