Brooks’ Comments:The Autumn Statement

30th November 2011

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced his Autumn Statement to the House of Commons this week. In the Statement he updated MPs on the state of the economy and the Government’s future plans to protect the economy, support infrastructure, enterprise and education. The emphasis of the Autumn Statement was how the Government will support growth while also improving fairness and helping families with the cost of living.

Brooks said, “I was encouraged by what the Chancellor said yesterday, particularly the support that will be given to enterprise in our area. We will have an active enterprise policy to help businesses expand and create jobs, with a £20 billion National Loan Guarantee Scheme, new tax breaks for investment in start-ups and cuts to red tape. It is paramount at the time of slow growth that the Chancellor pledged to support small and medium sized businesses, which constitute the lifeblood to economic growth in our area and throughout the country. The Government will be creating a new £1 billion Business Finance Partnership fund, to invest in smaller and mid-sized businesses through non-bank channels. In addition, a new Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) will be launched from April 2012, offering 50 per cent income tax relief on investment, and a capital gains tax exemption on gains realised in 2012-13 and then invested through SEIS. In 2013, an ‘above the line’ tax credit will be introduced to encourage research and development and the small business rate relief holiday will be extended for a further six months.

At every opportunity this Government will help families with the cost of living: a vital issue in our community. We will help families and young people by doubling the number of children who will receive free nursery care, and investing nearly £1 billion to help young people get jobs and training. The plan for next year was that fuel duty would be 3 pence higher in January than it is now and 5 pence higher than it is now in August. Instead we will scrap altogether the increase planned for January and ensure that in August fuel duty will only rise by 3 pence. So fuel duty will be frozen for nineteen months in total. From April petrol duty will be a full 10 pence lower than it would have been without our action in the Budget and in this week’s Autumn Statement. Families will save £144 on filling up the average family car by the end of next year. I know for many this is something that was of particular concern in my constituency so I am pleased that this change has been made and that it will offer some relief to families feeling the pinch.

Young people were a particular focus of the Statement, with an emphasis on job creation strategies though the Youth Contract worth £940 million. This includes 160,000 wage incentives to encourage firms to employ young people; at least 40,000 incentive payments for small firms to take on young apprenticeships; and offer of work experience or training for every unemployed 18 – 24 year old after three months on Jobseeker’s Allowance. We have a lot of hard working young in our community and I hope these changes will offer some respite for young people with so much ahead of them.

It is positive that we will be investing in our infrastructure, so that Britain can earn its living in the future. There will be £30 billion of private and public investment in roads and railways, high-speed broadband networks, science labs and free schools. Specifically in the East of England, infrastructure projects will include a new Lower Thames Crossing, a London Gateway port and the continued implementation of the £14.5 billion Crossrail project, with services operational from 2018 and the Thameslink Programme, with an investment of £6 billion in infrastructure and new trains. In addition, Local Enterprise Partnerships in the East of England will receive over £30 million as part of the Growing Places Fund

Failing to deal with our nation’s debt would jeopardise our low interest rates. Last April our market interest rates were higher than Italy’s. Now Italy’s rates are 7.3 per cent and ours are less than 2.5 per cent. A 1 per cent rise in our market interest rates could add £10 billion to mortgage bills each year – the average family with a mortgage would pay an extra £1,000. The cost of business loans would rise by £4 billion. Taxpayers would have to find £26 billion more in debt interest payments. These sums would dwarf any extra government spending or borrowing funded tax cuts.

Unlike Labour, this Government is not prepared to risk the solvency of the British economy or the security of British families.

This Government has a plan to deal with our nation’s debts. We are determined to support local businesses and local jobs, and we are committed to taking Britain safely through these turbulent times.”