Thursday, 24 March 2016

Budget

The row that erupted last weekend regarding the Budget shows how difficult it can be to strike the right balance. I am a former chairman of the Conservative Disability Group which has argued for more support to help people with disabilities find work. Progress has been made.  The Access to Work scheme provides grant funding to purchase any equipment or support that might help people take up work.  However, there is no doubt that Personal Independence Payments are important to many people, and we need to exercise caution when considering change, so I was pleased that George Osborne announced he would review the decision to make further changes to PIP, and take time to consider alternative approaches.

The Budget contained good news for Cornwall on other fronts.  Firstly, it was announced that there will be a new Enterprise Zone at Hayle to support the development of Wave Energy.  Now that we have the new Marine Business Park built having these incentives are an important step forward.

George Osborne also announced the next steps to introduce the country’s first National Funding Formula for schools. For too long there have been inconsistencies in the way that schools are funded. The data used to inform the current formula is ten years old, and too often funding does not reach those students who need it most. The proposed National Funding Formula will change this, targeting need, and tackling some of the longstanding inequalities in the current system.

There was also help for small businesses who are the lifeblood of the Cornish economy.  The permanent doubling of Small Business Rate Relief, alongside changes to the maximum threshold for relief from £12,000 to £15,000, means that 600,000 small businesses will never pay business rates again. This is important for Cornwall.  Too often, I see new businesses set up in our local towns, but the burden of business rates knocks them out before they have the chance to establish themselves.  This will now change, and is an incentive for anyone thinking of setting up on their own business.

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