The Chancellor this week outlined in his Autumn Statement the Government’s plans to boost economic growth, support households and help young people to find work.
A package of measures was announced in the Autumn Statement, including:
§ A £30 billion investment in key infrastructure projects as part of the National Infrastructure Plan, with up to two-thirds of funding coming from private pension funds
§ Up to £40 billion to free up credit by underwriting loans made by banks to small businesses as well as a £1 billion business finance partnership to raise money for medium-sized firms and an extension to the business rate holiday relief for small firms to April 2013
§ A £1 billion initiative to tackle youth unemployment by providing employers subsidies worth £2,275 to take on 18 to 24-year-olds as well as supporting additional incentives to take on apprentices
§ Support for people wanting to buy a new home by underwriting part of the risk to lenders, announcing a £400 million “Get Britain Building” investment fund to take forward the best “shovel-ready” projects that have stalled and providing discounts of up to 50% for social tenants wanting to buy their own homes
§ An additional £1.2 billion in spending for schools, both to ease the pressure of those schools with the greatest demand for school places and to provide funding for 100 new Free Schools
I am particularly pleased about the funding for new school places, given the demand for school places in Hounslow and I asked the Chancellor in the House of Commons during his Autumn Statement for more details on exactly how much Hounslow will receive.
The measures announced show the commitment this government has to reigniting growth in the economy – whilst maintaining a credible plan to deal with the deficit, operate within our means and keep the UK’s “safe haven” status in these turbulent economic times. As the Chancellor said in his speech, maintaining the UK’s international credibility has been critical in keeping down the interest rates that the Government has to pay on its debts. The UK is currently borrowing money at less than 2.5% whereas the Italian government is currently paying an interest rate of more than 7%.
None of the measures announced in the Autumn Statement will add to the deficit – this is about retargeting funds where we can and encouraging new investments from outside sources such as innovative schemes to encourage pension funds to invest in the British economy.
The Chancellor also introduced measures to reduce the pressure on people’s everyday spending. The cap on regulated rail, tube and bus fares to 1% above inflation instead of the planned 3% will make a real difference to commuters in London. Motorists will also be pleased to hear that the Government has listened to their concerns about the ongoing increases in the cost of petrol and has scrapped the planned 3p fuel duty rise that was due in January next year.
Pensioners too will benefit from the rise in the basic state pension by £5.30 next year to £107.45 which demonstrates the government’s ongoing commitment to treating our senior citizens with dignity and respect.
Locally we have had some good news stories to celebrate on the jobs front.
Recently I welcomed Aker Solutions to Chiswick Business Park, a leading global oil services company attracted to this area by the quality of skills of the local workforce. QVC, the shopping channel, are also preparing to move to Chiswick Business Park and BSkyB are hoping to extend their workforce in Isleworth. I will continue to do all I can to encourage growth and investment in local jobs.