Local MP, Andrew Jones, has welcomed measures in the budget to help local businesses and people during the coronavirus outbreak. Mr Jones also welcomed significant infrastructure expenditure designed to fulfil the government’s pledge to rebalance the economy.
The plans were delivered by North Yorkshire MP and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, in his first budget since being appointed.
Increases in the National Insurance threshold and the National Living Wage announced today will mean a tax cut for most working people while there will be tens of millions of pounds of investment in the region’s roads, rail, housing, broadband and flood defences.
Welcoming the proposals, Mr Jones said:
Coronavirus is the most immediate and pressing problem our country faces. The measures to help businesses and local people get through are much-needed including sick pay guarantees, enhanced business rate relief and loans available for business of all sizes including those who do not pay business rates at all.
I am particularly impressed by the scale of infrastructure investment we are set to see. This year there will be an extra £53m in Yorkshire for local road maintenance. I will be working hard to ensure that we get our fair share.
There’s more for flood defences, important for areas such as Knaresborough and Boroughbridge. There support too for affordable housing provision which is critical in our area with the average house price being more than 13 times the average income in our area.
I was pleased too to see the additional help for housing association and rough sleepers – our area is already seen as one of the leading lights in what we do for the homeless, street beggars and those in housing needs so we know new funding will be used well.
Andrew Jones said that when it came to taxation there was further good news for local people:
A further boost was announced for living wage levels. In Harrogate and Knaresborough many people working in the relatively low paid hospitality industry and this will see a salary increase for the least well-paid. Raising the national insurance threshold will deliver a tax cut for everyone.
The budget was welcomed by Graham Swift, a local business man and Harrogate Boroough Council, Cabinet Member for Resources, Enterprise and Economic Development.
Graham Swift, Harrogate Boroough Council, Cabinet Member for Resources, Enterprise and Economic Development, said:
The Chancellor has made a number of important statements in the Budget that address immediate, short term and long term issues in the UK. Harrogate residents and businesses will benefit from these.
Clearly there were funds made available to address issues around Covid 19 contagion. These measures simplify sickness benefits and support businesses in funding the short term impact of costs for people and businesses forced to take action from the virus.
The decision to extend 100% business rate relief to all small businesses below a £51,000 rateable value threshold gives immediate cash flow relief to businesses that will be most immediately impacted by drops in footfall and custom.
By extending it to a full year makes it simple for businesses to understand and can be implemented easily too. This has the potential to give small businesses as much as £25,000 relief in a year and makes a big impact because as many as 650 businesses in the Harrogate district will see rates fall to zero.
With small business rate relief in place already, this means that more than 3600 businesses in Harrogate district will pay no business rates at all, protecting the district as a place where small businesses can start up, grow and thrive.
I was pleased to see the government providing spending for future infrastructure. Our region remains underinvested in rail connectivity, road quality and connectivity. Anything that addresses this imbalance is to be welcomed.
County Councillor Carl Les, North Yorkshire’s leader said he particularly applauded the business rate relief and cash support for small to medium enterprises which are the backbone of the county’s economic wellbeing. He also welcomed the support for councils with the additional health and care costs they will bear to tackle coronavirus.
Car Les said:
This is necessary and timely support from the Government at a time of great need for our county and country.
The county council also looks forward in the coming weeks to possible infrastructure announcements for North Yorkshire on the back of the Budget’s £600bn infrastructure spending plan.
Cllr Les said:
We are particularly pleased that there will be £500m for pothole repairs. In a county with one of the largest road networks in the country this is very welcome news indeed. We also await an announcement on the county’s strategic road project for the re-routing of the A59 at Kex Gill and look forward to engaging with Highways England on the development work for the potential dualling of the A64 which has been identified as a pipeline project.
Cllr Les said that North Yorkshire was also reassured that the spending review is imminent. He said:
We hope the Government will bear in mind the urgent need for additional funding for adult social care and for high needs spending for children and young people as well as the implementation of fairer funding.
Cllr Les said the need remains to redistribute funding based on the costs of delivering services in a rural context. He said:
There are clear imbalances per head of population between Inner London boroughs, urban areas and shire counties, which need addressing.