Speaking in the Budget debate in the House of Commons, Brooks Newmark welcomes the Budget as a Budget for the makers, the doers, and the savers. He says, “our long-term economic plan is slowly but surely beginning to pay dividends.”
Mr Brooks Newmark (Braintree) (Con): This was a Budget for savers, for pensioners, for businesses, and for hard-working people, and most importantly of all it ably demonstrates that our long-term economic plan is working. Only last year, we were talking about a triple-dip recession, but in fact there was no triple-dip recession, or even double-dip recession. The Office for Budget Responsibility is now forecasting growth for this year to be 2.7%—the biggest upward revision in 30 years—and the Bank of England is forecasting growth to exceed 3%.
Kwasi Kwarteng: Will my hon. Friend tell the House who exactly was predicting the triple-dip recession, and pleading with the Government to go to plan B?
Mr Newmark: My hon. Friend makes a good point, and I think it was the shadow Chancellor who predicted 1 million people unemployed—I will get to that point in a moment.
More growth means more jobs, and over 1.5 million more jobs are forecast over the next five years, on top of the 1.7 million new jobs created in the past four years. Indeed, today we have more men and women in work than ever before. In Braintree, unemployment has dropped by a third since the general election, with general unemployment down from 3.4% to 2.3%, and youth unemployment from 6.3% to 4.1%. Last Friday we had a successful jobs fair in Braintree with more than 30 businesses and 450 local people attending. I thank Braintree Freeport and Amtek for sponsoring the event, and Braintree district council and Ignite—especially Liz Storey and her team—for their support.
Getting young people back into work is vital, as Councillor Stephen Canning, the youngest councillor in Braintree, keeps reminding me. As a founder of the Million Jobs campaign, I am delighted that the Chancellor has abolished national insurance contributions for employers hiring a young person under 21.
Apprenticeships, too, have been a great success, giving over 1 million people a first step on to the jobs ladder. In particular, I congratulate Braintree district council, especially Councillor Chris Siddall, cabinet member for prosperity and growth, on its apprenticeship programme, and Essex county council on supporting over 2,700 apprentices in the past five years.
The deficit is now down by one third and is due to fall to 5.5% next year. That is 50% of what we inherited in 2010. Yes, the Government’s long-term economic plan is indeed working.
This is a Budget for savers, with the raising of the annual limit on ISAs to £15,000, the abolition of the dreaded 10p rate on savings income helping over 1.5 million lower-income savers, and the new pensioner bonds offering up to 4% return on a three-year bond. This is a Budget for pensions and pensioners, with no one being forced to buy an annuity and no punitive 55% tax rate if people try to take more of their tax-free lump sum. This Budget puts pensions back in the control of pensioners, taking them away from the diktat of Government.
This is a Budget for business. At this point, I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. The annual investment allowance, which increased tenfold from £25,000 to £250,000, is now doubled again to £500,000. With the business confidence index at an all-time high, I hope that this will encourage businesses, including farmers in my area, to invest more in plant and machinery and to hire more people.
James Morris (Halesowen and Rowley Regis) (Con): Today I visited a company in my constituency, Cube Precision Engineering, with the Chancellor. We could already see the immediate impact of the raising of the investment allowance to £500,000, which is allowing that company to place an order for a new machine that will enhance its competitiveness and allow it to take on new people.
Mr Newmark: That is a fine example of exactly why raising the allowance from £25,000 to £250,000 was an important decision that created jobs. As my hon. Friend has indicated, doubling it again will create even more jobs.
This is a Budget for hard-working people, with petrol duty frozen; a penny off a pint of beer, again; and, most importantly, the personal allowance raised to £10,500, cutting taxation for over 25 million people and lifting 3.2 million people out of tax altogether.
Alec Shelbrooke rose—
Mr Newmark: I can give way only twice; I am sorry about that.
A typical taxpayer in my constituency of Braintree will pay £805 less in tax than they would have done before.
This Budget continues the drive to reform local public services and get value for money for local people. Braintree district council, under the leadership of Councillor Graham Butland, has reduced council taxes by 1% this year and 1% again next year, yet the council continues to invest in our town centres with initiatives such as the new jewellery village, supporting 12 new traders in Braintree town, and the pop-up shops generating four new retailers such as Chic Décor, started by Emma Jane Jarvis.
Essex county council, under the leadership of Councillor David Finch, is also to be congratulated. It has frozen its council tax for four years in a row, yet at the same time invested £3 million in flood prevention, £1 million in youth facilities, and £1.4 million to support vulnerable older people. Of course, the extra £2.7 million of funding in this Budget to address the blight of potholes on our roads throughout Essex, but especially in our rural areas, is also more than welcome.
This is indeed a Budget for hard-working people: for the makers, the doers, and the savers. Our long-term economic plan is slowly but surely beginning to pay dividends. I am delighted to support the 2014 Budget.